LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles County Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection Tuesday requested a major overhaul of the county’s child welfare system stating it is “in crisis”.
The Commission, which was established by the Board of Supervisors, said in a recent report it unanimously decided “that a State of Emergency exists, which requires a fundamental transformation of the current child protection system.”
Members requested the creation of an Office of Child Protection that could oversee child safety and control resources across relevant departments without adding bureaucracy.
Over eight months, the Commission conducted 15 public hearings, interviewed more than 300 people, reviewed 28 child fatality cases and evaluated hundreds of reports and recommendations to improve the current system.
In addition to the transformation of the county’s system, the Commission outlined about 40 other recommendations.
The report came following the 2013 death of Gabriel Fernandez, an 8-year-old Palmdale boy who died from injuries he reportedly received from his mother’s boyfriend.
The child’s grandparents claimed 62 instances of abuse were reported against Fernandez’s mother and her boyfriend, but nothing was done by authorities.
The couple has pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges in his death.
Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) initiated a state audit, which examined the policies and practices of child-protective agencies in Butte, Orange, and San Francisco counties, and revealed inconsistencies in how risk assessments are made for children in potentially dangerous situations.
The Blue Ribbon Commission’s full report and recommendations can be viewed here.