Los Angeles Daily News
Expert tells how he would prevent "panic" in foster-system
by Troy Anderson, Staff writer 9/4/09
To prevent a "foster-care panic" in which social service agencies needlessly remove children from homes, foster care expert Richard Wexler offers a few recommendations for the Board of Supervisors:
*Expand any investigation of high-profile death cases to include equal attention to cases of wrongful removal.
*Seek changes in state law to provide for "total transparency," including opening court hearings in child welfare cases, and most case records, to the public and press.
*Establish clear public benchmarks for progress, post the data prominently on the DCFS Web site and commit to measuring DCFS by those outcomes, "not by whatever happens to be on the front page that morning."
*Suspend the use of "structured decision-making" in which computers decide when to remove children based on questionnaires filled out by social workers.
"They need to make clear to front-line caseworkers that wrongfully removing a child from a safe home is every bit as dangerous as leaving a child in a dangerous home," said Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform in Alexandria, Va.
Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said he's confident an action the board recently took calling on better information-sharing among various government agencies will help prevent tragedies like the recent ones.
"We need to use these tragedies to improve and upgrade DCFS investigations," Antonovich said. "That's why we are talking about using more modern technology."
Sounds good to me!PRR