New commission not the answer for department drowning in recommendations

Over the last several years, we have had countless commissions, groups, panels and advisory boards provide us with recommendations for improving child protection services in Los Angeles County. By my approximate count, at least 859 suggestions have been provided, most of which say the same thing: we must ensure that our social workers have manageable and realistic caseloads, we must give our employees the training and resources they need to be effective, and we must end our relationships with service providers who abuse our funds. We are drowning in recommendations. Adding yet another commission to the galaxy of commissions we have to tell us what we already know will be a waste of time and money and will only distract us further from what needs to be fixed.

We have a department where 99% of the employees are outstanding public servants working in some really tough situations. However, innocent children have paid the ultimate price when we didn’t get it right, and I am sick about it. There should be a zero-tolerance policy for any staff or any service providers who do not do their jobs and expose children to harm.

I am not suggesting that we do nothing. But we should not rashly dismiss our current efforts. Late last year, this Board was presented with a strategic plan developed by DCFS to put in place a set of action items that address a number of the systemic problems that compromise child safety and hamper our workers’ ability to get the job done. This Board approved that plan, and it is moving forward.

We have no more important job than protecting the most vulnerable children in this county. Another Commission will not address the problems we face or set us on a path to the future. In fact, it will be a distraction to the very important work at hand. We know what must be done and we must remain committed to the course we set.