FROM Garrett Therolf
Youth Lockup Cracking down on crack ramped up the War on Drugs in the 1980s, and it didn’t matter if you were an adult using crack or a kid; tough on crime was tough on crime. That, of course, led to a surge of juvenile offenders right here in Los Angeles in the ‘80s and ‘90s. But juvenile arrests have since plummeted in L.A. County. A new county audit, however, says that taxpayers are still paying for the same levels of staffing and facilities, and the cost is up to about $233,000 per juvenile offender every year.
The Bay Boys of Palos Verdes The California Coastal Commission is attempting to crack down on a group of Palos Verdes surfers who call themselves the Bay Boys. Other surfers who brave the waves they control report being assaulted in the water, having stones and dirt thrown at them, and having their tires slashed. Local law enforcement has been unable or unwilling to do anything about it, until now.
Are Psychiatric Meds Over-Prescribed to LA Foster Kids? Congress has ordered the states to improve their oversight of antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs being given to kids when they're in foster care or the justice system. Nobody denies the challenge is daunting for a system that can't ever be perfect.
Are LA Social Workers 'Set Up for Failure?' LA County's Department of Children and Family Services receives 160,000 child-abuse hotline calls every year. In February, a scathing report commissioned by the Board of Supervisors blamed bureaucrats and social workers for leaving children in unsafe homes. In July, new management moved swiftly to fire four child welfare workers in the case of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy allegedly tortured to death by his mother and her boyfriend. Later that month, yet another panel was created to investigate and recommend "sweeping reforms." This week, the union of 55,000 workers sued the County , claiming that an arbitrator's ruling to reduce worker caseloads is being ignored.
LA County's Foster Care Crisis Is Worse than Ever Today's Los Angeles Times reports on what it calls a " crisis level " shortage of foster homes in Los Angeles County. There are fewer children needing placement, but they're among the hardest to place -- and the number of available homes is on the decline. The state is threatening to impose fines on Wednesday. We talk in a moment with the head of the Department of Children and Family Services and the Child Welfare Initiative , a nonprofit that works to improve the foster care system.
LA County Blue Ribbon Commission to Reform Child Welfare Angency LA County is trying to fire four social workers after the recent death of an 8-year-old boy—allegedly tortured by his mother and her boyfriend. Earlier this year, a scathing report on the lack of protection for thousands of abused children led to reforms now underway at the Department of Child and Family Services. But the record of failure is so aggravated and so long that the Board of Supervisors has appointed a blue-ribbon task force to see if more can be done. It’s first meeting will be tomorrow.
The LA County Department That's Allowed Children to Die Four years ago, Los Angeles County reported a backlog in child abuse investigations, which it called a "crisis." Now, the LA Times has uncovered a report filed in April of last year depicting a foster-care horror-show, including a case of torture and the deaths of 15 children as young as two from neglect and brutality. Caseworkers at the Department of Children and Family Services overlooked documented histories of abusive behavior on the part of foster parents and ignored hot-line complaints.
The Right to Speak to Elected Officials Last month, it was Zev Yaroslavsky's turn to chair the meetings of LA County's Board of Supervisors. He set off a firestorm by proposing to reduce the available time set aside for public comment. Reaction was fierce. But Board members complain that so-called "gadflies" often dominate meetings. What about people who want to bring up real issues?
LA County's Troubled Probation Department Gets a New Chief Los Angeles County Supervisors voteed today to appoint Stanislaus County Probation Chief Jerry Powers to take over their embattled Probation Department. The department faces pressure because of a new state law that shifts parolees and nonviolent felons from state to county probation supervision. Staff writer Garrett Therolf, who covers the county for the Los Angeles Times , has an update.
More Upheaval at LA's Department of Children and Family Services There's more trouble for Los Angeles County over the deaths of children from abuse and neglect, while they're under supervision by the Department of Children and Family Services . For the third time in nine months, a director of has resigned, as the County is defying a state subpoena for departmental records.
Judge Says California Must Pay Foster Parents More A federal judge ordered California to increase the reimbursement of foster parents, the people who care for wards of the state from infancy until age 19. That was three years ago, with a cost of just $2 million out of a multi-billion dollar state budget. But the state did nothing for parents who care for some 18,500 children. Yesterday, Judge William Alsup ordered immediate compliance and, finally, the state came around.
Latest Crisis at Department of Children and Family Services The Los Angeles Times reports that Trish Ploehn, LA County’s Director of Children and Family Services , is likely to lose her job, probably to be reassigned. This comes after months of horror stories, including some involving children who’ve suffered abuse and even died while under the radar of Ploehn’s department.
Child Abuse and County Bureaucracy Last month, an independent investigator found that LA County’s Department of children and Family Services violated state law at least 60 times by failing to publicly disclose the deaths of children from abuse and neglect while they were under County supervision. Now, two senior officials have filed claims against the County, claiming the Department purposefully falsified at least three child fatality reports.
Child Welfare Records: The Latest LA Confidential Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said yesterday, " The obsession with leaks … exceeds the obsession with child deaths." He was the lone dissenter in a 4-to-1 vote to investigate what was called the "inappropriate disclosure of confidential child welfare information." At issue is a series in the LA Times on the deaths of children in families that are supposed to be under the scrutiny of the County's child welfare officials. Dissenter Zev Yaroslavsky said after the vote, "all the energy that is spent on that is energy that is not spent on trying to figure out what's going wrong in the Department of Children and Family Services." We hear from a Times reporter , Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who voted for the investigation, and an advocate of open government.
Boy's Death Highlights Problems at Children and Family Services An 11-year-old 5th grader in Montebello hanged himself last month, just hours after Los Angeles County social workers visited his home because a school counselor had been told that same day he had threatened suicide. We hear from Garrett Therolf, who reported the tragic story for the LA Times, and from Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?
Why Don't Facts Matter? "Fake News" may have a long history, but social media and 21st Century politics have brought it front and center. One reason for its appeal and its power is the tendency of so many people to cling to their beliefs — even when confronted with contradictory evidence. Today, another look at the Emotional States of America.
Trump's ethical conflicts pile up as transparency diminishes President Trump's refusal to reveal his income tax returns is just one example of a lack of transparency that could be hiding conflicts of interest. Other conflicts are already obvious from his appointments. And he's being sued for using his job to increase his profits.