LOS ANGELES (CBS) — An investigation into records of child deaths in Los Angeles County has led to warnings that welfare officials may be committing a crime by withholding documents from state officials.

The state auditor of California said on Monday the troubled Department of Children and Family Services is illegally shielding its records after county supervisors defied a subpoena, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Lawmakers ordered the probe after the Times reported over 70 children had died of abuse or neglect since 2008 after coming to the attention of the county social workers.

County officials have confirmed many of those deaths involved serious case management errors, according to The Times.

The audit seeks to identify whether systemic flaws contributed to fatalities in Los Angeles and other counties. Lawmakers said it probably would result in legal reforms, according to The Times.

A lawyer hired by L.A. County told The Times that officials had provided dozens of boxes of records and allowed auditors to interview social workers but would not turn over documents they believe are shielded by attorney-client privilege.

“In addition to the county’s established right to protect its communications with its attorneys, the county seeks to preserve its ability to candidly evaluate its child protective services,” attorney Daniel P. Barer wrote in a response to questions from The Times.

While Alameda, Fresno and Sacramento counties have cooperated with similar subpoenas, auditors said they were confronted by “stalling tactics and unyielding refusal” in Los Angeles, The Times reported.

As a result, state officials said they would issue an audit that addresses only the three other counties while they fight for access in Los Angeles.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (6)
  1. James Granfield says:

    Whatever happened to the Freedom Of Informaition Act or dioes that not extend to Counties, Cities etc., are thy excempt. These files are paid for by Tax Payers Money and should be open for review.

  2. Janet says:

    Damn shame cause Los Angeles is the very worst offender. They do nothing to protect these children. Lie and cheat to try and hide their terrible track record.

  3. Pam says:

    What is happening to these poor children is disgusting. I know that people in Social Services are understaffed, underpaid, etc. But what about an understaffed conscience? How could anyone let these children die and not give a damn? Laziness and lack of caring is what it boils down to. Despicable. I know there MUST be someone who cares? Anyone? Someone?

  4. The Mad Man says:

    The social services staff have NO conscience to understand what living in abuse means. Protecting their jobs is their only concern. This needs severe investigating and would be worth the money to destroy the lives of some of these workers who shield the people that commit crimes in the face of ‘protecting privacy’ but the bottom line is that they are protecting their jobs. When you turn your head and write up a piece of paper saying nothing is wrong, then YOU should be charged as an accessory!

  5. Please says:

    We don’t know the half of it. I have been trying to get someone to listen to me because my grandson will be the next victim if someone don’t listen to me. He has been abuse and still is and they are trying to cover it up. WHO WILL LISTEN. Help to keep him safe. The Board of Supervisor know and are the responsible governing party over DFCS and how may report do they have to get before they get off their lazy overpaid behinds. All of them need to stop turning their heads! How many children got to be hurt or killed before they do something. This Government Agency reflects the Government that oversee them!

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