When it comes to protecting our children, new bureaucracy isn’t the answer

Tomorrow morning, the Board of Supervisors will discuss an extremely important issue: the welfare of children in Los Angeles County.

Last year, a Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection was established.  I opposed this commission for exactly the reasons I fear we will see tomorrow: a long discussion about a whole lot of recommendations we have heard before.

In fact, also last year, our Department of Children and Family Services underwent a massive strategic planning process to develop a plan to protect our most vulnerable children.  Everyone from case workers to managers, judges and external advocates had their input heard over an 18 month period.  Just when the Department started to execute the strategic plan, with barely an opportunity to implement the changes, along came the call for another commission.

The Commission reported back in April with a list of 55 new recommendations to implement, many of which were already being carried out before the Commission came together. They also recommended creating an Office of Child Protection and an up-to 19-member oversight team.

While no doubt good-intentioned, adding more bureaucracy will not do one bit of good to protect children in Los Angeles County.  We need to focus our attention and efforts on the people on the ground, our social workers, who face incredible challenges each day in trying to keep kids safe.  We need to give our people the tools and training they need to do their job.  And we must support the relatives who stand up and take abused and neglected children in.

As much as we would all like to see it, change does not happen overnight in any organization.  It takes commitment to a path, and the courage and diligence to stay the course. Let’s not add more bureaucracy and administration.  Let’s focus on the children who need us and the people who can truly help them most.