FROM Philip Browning
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.
Social Workers Strike LA County The recent beatings and even deaths of children in county care have cast a negative spotlight on LA County's Department of Family and Children's Services. Last week, more than 2000 unionized social workers and supervisors stayed off the job — two-thirds of the workforce — as contract negotiations drag on.
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.
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.
Tackling Hunger in Los Angeles County Two years ago, there were 1.7 million people in LA County at risk of being hungry -- that's close to 20 percent -- and there's no doubt their numbers are on the increase. But only about half of those eligible for food stamps know they could get help from the program.
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?
Nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula slowly coming to a head North Korea did not conduct a nuclear test this weekend, but it did show apparent progress in developing a missile that that could strike the United States. The Trump Administration says it has lost its "strategic patience." We hear what that might -- or might not -- mean for North Korea, China and the prospects for diplomacy.