Report 2011-101.2 Recommendations and Responses in 2013-041

Report 2011-101.2: Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services: Management Instability Hampered Efforts to Better Protect Children

Department Number of Years Reported As Not Fully Implemented Total Recommendations to Department Not Implemented After One Year Not Implemented as of 2012-041 Response Not Implemented as of Most Recent Response
Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services 1 9 4 n/a 4

Recommendation 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.

Response

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

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: January 2014
  • Response Date: October 2013

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

To ensure that it is placing children only in safe homes, the department should measure its performance and adjust its practices to adhere to state law, which requires that all homes be assessed prior to the placement of the child.

Response

As noted in its initial response, the Department asserts that it adheres to State Law when placing children. DCFS has submitted in prior responses a May 24, 2012 letter from CDSS indicating that WIC section 309 permits the temporary placement of a child with a relative or NREFM before or at the detention hearing based upon the abbreviated assessment of the relative's suitability described in Section 309(d)(1).

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement
  • Completion Date:
  • Response Date: October 2013

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

To improve its process for placing children with a relative, the department should analyze the best practices used by other county child welfare services agencies for such placements. The department should then implement changes in its practices so that relatives and their homes are approved prior to placement, as required by state law.

Response

The Department requested placement policies from other counties (Ventura, San Bernardino, San Diego, Orange and Santa Clara counties). Upon review we determined that the policies did not differ from our own in material respects. In addition, our ASFA management provided refresher training on ASFA placement policies to workers in our regional offices. Training was completed in April 2013.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement
  • Completion Date: April 2013
  • Response Date: October 2013

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

To fully benefit from its death review process, the department should implement the resulting recommendations.

Response

Implementation Date: Partly implemented. Full implementation expected to be completed by December 2013.

The Department has taken steps to disseminate "lessons learned" and implement recommendations from the critical incident/fatality review process. If a recommendation relates to a change in policy, the Department revises the policy as appropriate. Sometimes, the recommendation requires a practice change and recommends notice to staff or additional training of staff. If the recommendation relates to what appears to be a systemic practice issue, the Department has developed a training/communication plan designed to implement those recommendations as described below.

Beginning in August 2013, the Department started using actual (de-identified) fact scenarios from actual cases where there was a critical incident or fatality. Specifically, these fact scenarios form the basis of simulation training provided to our new Social Workers. In the simulation training, the worker participates in a simulated home call and/or investigation wherein their response is reviewed and critiqued by training staff. The worker receives feedback along with a tape of their "performance."

Additionally, starting in December 2013, the Department will begin disseminating to managers, select de-identified fact scenarios of critical incident/fatality cases. The scenarios will call out practice lapses as identified in and recommended by the review process. Managers will review the scenarios and discuss practice lapses with their Social Workers.

Responsible staff: Maryam Fatemi and Dawna Yokoyoma, Deputy Directors over the Service Bureaus; Patricia Dennis, Division Chief over Policy and Training; Francesca LeRue, Division Chief over Risk Management Division

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: December 2013
  • Response Date: October 2013

Current Status of Recommendations

All Recommendations in 2013-041