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Investigation demanded after child deaths

 

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local&id=6956607

VIDEO:  http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/video?id=6956615

Sunday, August 09, 2009

ANGELES (KABC) — County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas wants answers and is demanding an independent investigation into the deaths of two children under the care of the Department of Child and Family Services.

On Saturday morning two-year-old Jasmine Granados was found dead inside her home in Athens. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said the toddler’s mother is underage and is also a ward of the state. The mother has been questioned by authorities. Investigators are waiting on autopsy results to figure out exactly how the child died.

The mysterious death comes weeks after the death of 6-year-old Dae’von Bailey. Bailey was found beaten to death in a home in South Los Angeles. The child’s mother’s ex-boyfriend is suspected of the crime but has eluded arrest.

Investigators said Bailey was the subject of at least a dozen calls to Los Angeles County’s child abuse hotline; however the first-grader was left in the care of his accused killer.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said he wants to know how these children fell through the cracks and wants to make sure the county does more to protect children in the care of DCFS.

“I believe that it is important to implement the appropriate software systems and new technologies that will send alerts and warnings that will make it better for the workers that have to deal with these issues as well as protecting the children and saving their lives,” said Ridley-Thomas.

 

Ridley-Thomas wants faster action to overhaul system tracking child abuse cases

 

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/08/los-angeles-county-supervisor-mark-ridley-thomas-plans-to-release-a-proposal-wednesday-calling-for-the-county-to-more-quickly.html

August 11, 2009 | 7:52 pm

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas plans to release a proposal Wednesday calling for the county to more quickly overhaul or replace computer systems that the Department of Children and Family Services uses to track child abuse and determine when children should be removed from homes.

Ridley-Thomas said he wanted to expedite efforts to update the systems after the recent violent deaths of three children – two of whom lived in his district — who’d had previous contact with Family Services officials.

Foster child Jasmine Granados, 2, was found dead Saturday at a home she was visiting in South Los Angeles; Dae’von Bailey, 6, was allegedly beaten to death July 23 by his mother’s former boyfriend; and 4-year-old Lars Sanchez was decapitated by his mother at their Highland Park home July 18 before she took her own life.

All three children had had contact with the department before their deaths, records show.

“The current system is seriously flawed,” Ridley-Thomas said. “We have to search the marketplace for better tools, and we shouldn’t take forever to do so. We’ve reached a crisis point.”

Ridley-Thomas said he favored replacing some or all of the department’s four major data systems, especially the Family and Children’s Index (FCI).

FCI was designed in the 1990s to share information between county departments and could take years to update, he said. In contrast, he said, newer systems that use new social networking and data-mining technology to anticipate potential abuse, as well as flag problem cases, could be up and running within a year.

“It is extremely urgent that we address this,” he said. “It makes no sense to me that we are so behind the times.”

His proposal calls for the Family Services director, the county’s chief executive and the chief information officer to report back to the board within a month on how to develop, integrate and pay for a new computer system. He is also asking that they weigh going with a new computer system against updating existing systems.

County officials began proposing changes to the department’s computer systems in June after stories in The Times highlighted how repeated miscommunication with other county agencies contributed to their failure to prevent the deaths of several children.

In April, child welfare authorities reported that 14 children died last year as the result of abuse or neglect despite being under their watch.

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