Report 2011-101.2 Recommendation 2 Responses

Report 2011-101.2: Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services: Management Instability Hampered Efforts to Better Protect Children (Release Date: March 2012)

Recommendation #2 To: Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services

To ensure that child abuse and neglect allegations receive timely resolution, the department should assess whether it needs to permanently allocate more resources to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From November 2017

As of September 2017, DCFS hired 2,316 Children's Social Workers (CSW). This surpassed its initial hiring goal of 450 new Children's Social Workers. DCFS will continue its hiring efforts in order to address attrition and fill vacancies. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved an additional 318 positions for the budget year starting July 1, 2017. This has allowed the Department to continue its hiring activities, which were originally geared towards achieving an average ER caseload of 18 per CSW. As of September 2017, the department-wide ER average is 13.5 per CSW.

  • Completion Date: September 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From September 2015

As of September 2015, DCFS hired 1,082 Children's Social Workers. This surpassed its initial hiring goal of 450 new Children's Social Workers. DCFS will continue its hiring efforts in order to address attrition and fill vacancies. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved an additional 500 positions for the budget year starting July 1, 2015. DCFS expects to reach full caseload equity as soon as possible. As many of the new hires complete training and slowly build to full caseload capacities, DCFS will continue to fill caseload equity needs in ER sections in the highest need offices. ER caseload averages remain below the caseload average of 18 with the exception of the four peak referral months. The target goal remains the same with ER caseloads of 18 across all offices.

  • Estimated Completion Date: Fall 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2014

As of September 2014, DCFS met its initial hiring goal of 450 new Children's Social Workers. DCFS will continue its hiring efforts in order to address attrition and fill vacancies as needed. DCFS expects to reach full caseload equity as soon as possible. As many of the new hires complete training and slowly build to full caseload capacities, DCFS will begin to fill caseload equity needs in ER sections of the highest need offices. ER caseload averages remain below the caseload average of 18 with the exception of the four peak referral months. The target goal remains the same with ER caseloads of 18 across all offices.

Between Fiscal Year (FY) 2011-12 and FY 2013-14, the DCFS rate of closures for referrals over the 30-day time period have decreased over the statewide average from 6.5% to 4.3%. Some offices have a high staff turnover rate; DCFS restricted the transfer of CSWs from these offices. The County Board of Supervisors has approved 150 new CSW positions and the continued filling of vacancies. In FY 2013-14, DCFS conducted a Business Process Reengineering of ER services to identify delays and streamline investigations. The Department continues to apply interventions to better support line staff, return staff to work, retain staff, and safely streamline the work of the organization for improved outcomes. Since the majority of counties in California have referrals which exceed the 30 day time limit, discussions with the State to review the time limit on referrals are underway.

  • Estimated Completion Date: Fall 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2013

Implementation Date: Partly implemented. Full hiring expected to be completed by January 2014.

The Department has formally assessed whether it needs to permanently allocate more resources to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect. Specifically, the Department has developed a tool to access workload rather than caseload. The tool is a mathematical formula that uses raw caseload counts and case characteristics (e.g. a case involving a runaway youth) to express workload numerically.

The workload analysis identified those offices that have a larger number of complex cases in both the Emergency Response (ER) and Continuing Services functions - it identifies which offices require additional resources. Between August 2013 and January 2014, the Department will hire an additional 250 social workers and will use the workload analysis tool to help us determine office assignments and office function (ER versus Continuing Services) for most of the new workers. Approximately 100 workers began in August 2013 and we are in the process of hiring the remaining 150 who are expected to start in January 2014.

Responsible staff: Cynthia McCoy-Miller, Senior Deputy Director over Human Resources; Patricia Dennis, Division Chief over Training

  • Estimated Completion Date: January 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


1-Year Agency Response

Solutions for barriers to timely Emergency Response (ER) investigations continue to be an ongoing focus for the Department. The Department embarked upon a reorganization plan that specifically focuses on front-end investigative operations. As the most recent organization chart indicates, specific Regional Administrators (as well as Assistant Regional Administrators) will now manage ER functions to enhance oversight over the quality and timeliness of investigations. As part of this reorganization, the Department has further intensified its continual work on ensuring that there is sufficient staffing in front-end operations. Also, the department has hired 24 public health nurses to participate in joint visits.

The Department has explored the use of mobile LiveScan devices to reduce delays in receipt of California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS) information, another identified barrier to timely investigations. However, the department discovered our staff are not allowed the use of the mobile LiveScan device as direct access to CLETS information is limited to law enforcement. As a result, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) offered to provide CLETS information for emergency placement situations. The Department is working with County Counsel to pursue potential legislative changes. Additionally, the Department and County Counsel are also exploring the option of working with Probation to request and obtain CLETS results. Lastly, we are continuing discussions with DOJ on expediting receipt of LiveScan results. The Department continues to pilot iPhones, and other technologies, to determine their effect on productivity.

  • Response Date: March 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Pending

The department has taken steps to ensure that child abuse and neglect allegations are timely resolved. It has hired additional nurses to assist social workers with medical evaluations and is working on obtaining background checks on individuals in a more timely manner. However, the department has not provided us with any indication that it has formally assessed whether it has devoted sufficient resources to respond to allegations of abuse and neglect in a timely manner.

  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

6-Month Agency Response

The department states it is currently assessing the caseload levels for social workers who investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect and is examining its processes to streamline its investigations. (See 2013-406, p. 124)

  • Response Date: September 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending


All Recommendations in 2011-101.2

Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.