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LA Child Welfare Defies Law

October 10, 2010 permalink

Los Angeles child protectors have refused to provide data on deaths in foster care in spite of a California law requiring disclosure. Now Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is demanding accurate data covering the past two decades. An accurate reply would likely disclose around 600 deaths.

As a public service, fixcas gives Mr Ridley-Thomas a head start with the names of 31 children who died in the last 20 years while in the custody of Los Angeles County child welfare, arranged by date of death. Robert Brown, November 1991, Flora Carpio, March 5, 1993, Marc Charles Ballin, March 5, 1993, Kameron Justin Demery, October 14, 1996, Julio Antonio Gonzalez, December 29, 1996, Jonathan Herbert Reid, June 9, 1997, Rodney Haynes Jr, August 25, 1997, Garnet Peels, April 1, 1999, Elijah Jamel Johnson, May 10, 1999, Gilbreania Wallace, June 13, 1999, Ralph Norman Van Pelt Jr, May 3, 2000, Andre Booth, October 2000, Kerry Brooks, February 10, 2001, Danzel Bailey, April 2001, Michael Ferguson, May 27, 2001, Jasmine Garcia, June 15, 2001, Maria Isabel Cervantes, September 27, 2001, Desiree Collins, February 10, 2002, Dakota Denzel Prince-Smith, July 8, 2003, Nehemiah Nate Prince-Smith, July 8, 2003, Oneisha Johnson aka Robinson, August 7, 2003, Laura Fleming, November 21, 2004, Sarah Angelina Chavez, October 11, 2005, Rita R Foster, June 29, 2006, Gerardo Martinez, August 2, 2006, Miguel Angel Padilla Jr, April 2008, Isabelle Garcia, May 19, 2008, Lazhanae Renita Harris, March 7, 2009, Semaj Jamaree Spencer, August 2, 2009, Jasmine Granados, August 8 2009, Viola Vanclief, March 4. 2010.

In addition, on March 30, 2010 the Los Angeles Times reported that an unnamed foster child drowned in a pool in 2007 while the foster mom was distracted and on December 14, 2009 Catherine and Julia Fontaine died at the hands of their grandmother to save them from CPS. These lists, drawn mainly from the press, typically contain only one out of every 20 deaths.



Ridley-Thomas presses for data about deaths of children in L.A. County's care

The supervisor cites a 'crisis' in seeking detailed information for the last 20 years.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas announced Saturday that he is asking the county's child welfare agency to provide the Board of Supervisors with accurate data about children's deaths going back to 1990.

Ridley-Thomas described child fatalities under the county's watch as a crisis and said he plans to call on fellow supervisors Tuesday to order the Department of Children and Family Services to compile comprehensive figures for deaths of children who had a history of abuse or neglect.

Without such data, the supervisor said, the county is unable to pinpoint the causes of fluctuations in deaths or to determine whether they involve killings that could have been prevented by the county. The department lacks comprehensive data for deaths before 2008, he said.

"Obtaining all critical information that can inform us of the true scope and severity of this crisis is not only important, it is our duty," Ridley-Thomas said in a statement.

The requested data include the number of deaths, the ages of the children, the areas where they lived and died, identification of those responsible for their deaths and other information.

The supervisor's request comes amid criticism that the agency failed to report dozens of children's deaths tied to abuse or neglect. The county's Office of Independent Review recently found that the department hid dozens of cases from the public.

The department has not responded in several weeks to requests from The Times about the true number of children's deaths. State law requires counties to publicly disclose specific information about the circumstances surrounding deaths of children under the jurisdiction of child welfare agencies.

Source: Los Angeles Times