Dozens of children die of abuse in LA in 2008

LOS Angeles––Thirty-two children died of abuse and neglect, including physical assault, drowning and malnourishment in the Los Angeles area last year, a newspaper report said on Tuesday.

Among the victims, fourteen children died of abuse and neglect despite coming from families that had been under the scrutiny of child welfare officials, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, 18 children were in families that had never been in contact with the family services agency, the paper said.

In some families, children died within months or even one day after a social worker’s last visit, the paper said.

In one case, the family of a boy who died of multiple skull fractures had been reported 25 times to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) that the mother had a known history of methamphetamine use, said the paper.

The agency launched investigations into 10 cases that will probably result in discipline against social workers for their failure to stop the tragedies, the paper quoted agency officials as saying.

“These are shocking cases,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina said. “The biggest problem is that no lessons are learned.”

Agency officials say they lack adequate resources to handle daunting caseloads, according to the paper.

Reacting to the report, county Supervisor Michael Antonovich pledged to call for reform and more accountability.

“This report reveals shocking procedural errors and accountability failures that have resulted in these tragedies,” Antonovich said. “Identifying those responsible and initiating disciplinary measures will prevent future deaths.”

Antonovich said he wants the county CEO and county counsel to improve casework policy and oversight while strengthening child fatality reporting and review procedures.

A report on disciplinary actions resulting from the new policies would be required by the Board of Supervisors on a quarterly basis, he said. PNA

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