Deaths Rise in Children Monitored by Los Angeles Child Services

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The number of neglected or abused children dying in Los Angeles, even after the county’s Department of Children and Family Services has become involved in their cases, is on the rise, according to confidential documents seen by the Los Angeles Times.

So far this year, 21 children under the watch of the agency have died of abuse or neglect. That puts the county on track to lose more children to those causes than it did last year, when 26 died, or in 2008, when 18 died. The grim statistics arrive in the wake of a recent study that suggested that sometimes the involvement of child welfare agencies can do more harm than good. (More on Photos: Pregnant Belly Art)

L.A. County supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky seems to have nailed the situation pretty well when he told the Times that “something has gone terribly, terribly haywire in the oversight of these children.” The supervisor speculates:

Yaroslavsky questioned whether the department’s drive to reduce the number of children removed from their families and placed in foster care has led the county to leave too many children in unsafe conditions.

The number of foster children has dropped from 52,000 in 1997 to 18,800 this year. During this period, the department has focused on increased drug treatment, parental training and other services meant to allow children to remain safely with their own parents.

The drive has been motivated by the belief that a child’s welfare is best served by his or own family, even when that family is somewhat troubled. But the reduction of foster children is also a budgetary imperative.

Read the full L.A. Times story here.

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