County of Los Angeles
DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES
425 Shatto Place, Los Angeles, California 90020
Board of Supervisors YVONNE B. BURKE DON KNABE
Board of Supervisors
YVONNE B. BURKE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 4, 2008
Contact: Louise Grasmehr or Stu Riskin
DCFS Office of Public Affairs
DCFS Innovations in Child Welfare to be Highlighted during Testimony at Speaker Bass and Assemblymember Beall Hearing
on Foster Care Reform on Friday, August 8th
DCFS Director and Staff to Testify about Best Practices in L.A. County
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Director Patricia S. Ploehn and DCFS staff will testify about best practices and cutting-edge innovations in Los Angeles County’s child welfare system at an Assembly Select Committee on Foster Care hearing being convened by Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Jim Beall, Jr. (D-San Jose), Chair, on Friday, August 8, 2008, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the California Science Center Muses Room, 700 Exposition Park Drive in Los Angeles.
The hearing will highlight best practices that improve outcomes for foster children and families throughout the state. Attendees will hear testimonies from foster youth, community organizations, social workers and advocates on challenges and solutions to strengthening California’s foster care system.
Ms. Ploehn will speak on the DCFS three key outcomes of improved permanence, improved safety and a reduced reliance on out-of-home care, and how innovations and best practices reinforce the department’s pathway of reform. She will also discuss recent DCFS improvements including an increase in the number of children adopted and safely reunified with their families, as well as the challenges facing the system, specifically in this tight budget year. Los Angeles County DCFS is one of the largest child welfare agencies in the country. As of the end of June, there were 17,834 children in temporary out-of-home care in Los Angeles County, down from an all-time high of approximately 50,000 in the late 1990s.
DCFS staff will specifically discuss the innovations and best practices currently underway in Los Angeles County’s child welfare system. Testimony topics will include:
· The County’s Prevention Initiative Demonstration Project (PIDP), a year-long child abuse and neglect project intended to create a comprehensive, strength-based, prevention system extending beyond County government – and beyond the jurisdiction of any one County department – by enhancing existing community-based networking systems. The goal of the PIDP is to keep children safe from harm and prevent families from entering, re-entering, and/or experiencing extended stays in the County’s health and human services system by addressing root causes that weaken families and communities such as poverty, poor education, crime, lack of health/dental health and substance abuse.
· Team Decision-Making (TDM) used to make an immediate decision regarding a child’s placement that protects the child and preserves or reunifies the family safely. TDM works with the strengths of the family and uses a team approach, which includes the family, to seek consensus in the placement decision.
· Efforts to reduce racial disproportionality and disparities, a growing issue in child welfare. For the last two years, the DCFS Pomona office and its community partners have been committed to raising awareness and have focused efforts to address the issue of disproportionality in their community. In May 2008, the Pomona office and the Metro North office were accepted to participate in the California Disproportionality Project, a collaboration of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs and the California Department of Social Services. The project is designed to support the work of California counties and the state in eliminating racial disproportionality and disparities in child welfare. The project will bring 12 counties along with one state level team to work intensively on this issue over the course of 24 months in a collaborative learning environment that will focus on sharing ideas and tracking what works and what does not, such that practices and strategies that work to reduce disproportionality which can be spread in the child welfare agencies and communities.
· The County’s Wraparound program which provides services to families and their children with multiple, complex and enduring needs. Wraparound is an integrated, multi-agency, community-based process grounded in a philosophy of unconditional commitment to support families to safely and competently care for their children. The single most important outcome of the Wraparound approach is a child thriving in a permanent home and supported by normal community services and informal supports.
The August 8th hearing follows a hearing in Sacramento on July 31st where DCFS managers provided testimony on the Point of Engagement service delivery system aimed at providing more preventative services. POE is characterized by a seamless and timely transfer of responsibility from front-end investigations to actual service delivery in order to provide more thorough evaluations and needed services to children and families within their homes and communities. This new system uses a multi-disciplinary approach that includes the family, avoiding, if possible, the removal of children from their homes.
Established in 1984, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services is the public agency charged with ensuring that children grow up safe, physically and emotionally healthy, educated and in permanent homes. DCFS works to ensure that all children have a connection to family, friends, schools and neighborhoods and provides services to children and their families when they are at-risk due to actual and potential child abuse, abandonment, neglect or exploitation. With an annual budget of over $1.7 billion and a diverse staff of more than 7,000 employees, DCFS serves children and families through 18 offices located throughout Los Angeles County including Los Angeles, Lancaster, San Gabriel Valley, San Fernando Valley and the South Bay area.