Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Judge Rebukes Child Welfare Agency for Withholding Data on Deaths

http://www.publicceo.com/2013/01/judge-rebukes-child-welfare-agency-for-withholding-data-on-deaths/

 

A well intentioned law from 2008 has led to a vexing inconsistency in the disclosure of facts relating to the deaths of children under the state’s care. That resulted in a San Diego judge striking down the regulations.

In 2008, state legislators passed a law that required disclosure of facts in cases where a child in the state’s welfare system died as a result of abuse or neglect. However, those regulations have been used to not disclose information, because it did not specify what conditions must be met for disclosure. Instead, officials have approached the disclosure law as only applying where death resulted directly from parent, guardian, or foster parent actions.

That interpretation eliminated situations where other relatives or boyfriends and girlfriends caused the death. It also meant that situations where a child committed suicide due to abuse went unreported.

In her ruling, Judge Judith Hayes did not establish new regulations. However, Los Angeles County Welfare Chief Philip Browning hopes that the ruling will result in wider disclosures. Currently, he told the Los Angeles Times that he spends more time than necessary holding high-level meetings deciding which cases should be disclosed. His hope is that with more disclosure, more attention will be given to protecting children by improving policies.

Read the full story at the Los Angeles Times.