Proper Supervision Supervisors Take Control of Probation and CWS 051811
A report in the Sacramento Bee informs us that the board of supervisors of Los Angeles has taken control of Probation and CWS from the county CEO. The Board has ultimate authority in any case, but they responded to some problems by resuming immediate responsibility.
Compare this to Sierra County, where the supervisors continue to be gripped with inactivity in the face of significant allegations against the Director of Health and Human Services, Dr. Carol Roberts, and other staff.
The allegations, if true, indicate several problems in the department, including Director involvement in individual cases, and the Director providing false information to the judge and County Council Jim Curtis regarding a local CWS case.
The allegations appeared in two claims, one from a social worker in the department who first outlined breeches of proper protocol, and a second by a parent effected in the case.
Because of the arcane way child welfare is accomplished in California, it is very difficult to for the Board to oversee the agency. The intention of the law was to shield recipients of social services from the
impact of local interference. The unintended consequence is that it seems to hamstring the Board.
But, it doesn’t actually. The Board can hire an outside expert. As a consultant to the Board, that person could review all the appropriate case data, and indeed, could review practices in the agency and make recommendations to Board for changes.
Technically, only a judge could find the Director legally culpable for acts, but the claims aren’t likely to go to trial, they’ll likely be settled out of court with both sides agreeing not to reveal terms. The Board has the responsibility and authority to act, and it should do something. Waiting for a judgment is not a substitute for taking due diligence themselves.
Instead, we hear some supervisors saying, “we need a CEO to do this kind of work.” That’s shirking, as the LA County Board demonstrates by taking control.
Until the Board takes some action, the County is liable for more suits, particularly if these claims are settled. Neither is this an instance where the general good of the county demands the Board to avoid the lawsuit at any cost. If the Board evaluation of the situation calls for punitive action, then the Board should take it, regardless the outcome of the lawsuit. The families of the county rely on their oversight to protect treasures more valuable than dollars.