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Dozens protest at L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services headquarters

About 80 people protested Thursday outside the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services headquarters urging officials to offer more mental health services and other forms of support for abused or neglected children.

Using bullhorns and signs, the protesters focused on about 7,000 children who have been removed from their parents and are placed in the care of extended family members under court order.

“We need help,” said one of the protesters, 55-year-old Debra Lee, who added that the department asked her to care for her granddaughter and great-granddaughter. “I know our children are suffering and they will have lifelong issues because DCFS isn't paying attention.”

Lee said her granddaughter has severe mental health needs but she has been unable to win mental health services for her. As a result, she said, the girl often ran away and gave birth to two children.

“We had a meeting three years ago with DCFS Director Trish Ploehn and she promised to establish a mental health work group for relative caregivers like myself,” Lee said. “But nothing has come of it.”

DCFS spokesman Nishith Bhatt said, “DCFS is committed to working with our community partners, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, and other mental health care providers to ensure that the children in our care receive the mental health services and supports they need.”

“Such services for children and families under DCFS care,” he added, “may include, but are not limited to, support groups and extracurricular activities, as well as support and education for adult relatives caring for children in need of mental health services.”

-- Garrett Therolf

Read complete coverage of this issue in The Times investigation: Innocents Betrayed

Comments () | Archives (14)

Well, we can all rest tonite. The Board of Supervisors join the cool-aid drinkers in boycotting Arizona for the illegal alien law and in doing so forego the business they were ELECTED to do like take care of the mental health issue of abused and negelected children of this county. Hey Gloria get your priorities straight!!! PROTECT OUR CHILDREN!!!!! And mind your own business and stay out of Arizona's. At least they are trying to protect their citizens. What are you doing for us here in Los Angeles County?

did the protesters contribute ANY money toward their goal?

Two words - No Money.

I would ask Debra Lee (one of the protestors) what happened to your daughter or your son, the ones responsible for bringing your grandaughter and your great granddaughter into this world. Why should there be assistance for them, where are their parents? And I also ask, why is it that those of your heritage are suffering from issues, I have to question the upbringing. I didn't grow up in an era when the county, city or state took responsiblity for my family-why now? If you read this please provide answers. The taxpayers cannot afford this, nor is it their responsiblity.

There is no money for social services as state is in debt, you can not complain
when there is no money as the state employees would take the precedence
to get fed.
Vote for Meg Whitman and hope she can fire 40,000 state workers to have
some money to pay for social service.

Grandmothers, aunts and uncles like Debra Lee save taxpayers in LA County millions of dollars by taking in children who would otherwise end up in the broken and expensive foster care system -- abused, neglected, bumped from one foster home to another. Many of these children who end up in foster care end up dropping out of school, homeless or in prison. Children who are placed with relatives and stay in their communities have far better outcomes than children placed with strangers or foster care homes, which is why DCFS has been relying on Relative Caregivers for the past 10 years to reduce its foster care roles. Relative Caregivers make up more than 50 percent of those caring for children in DCFS and the biggest drop in open cases has coming from children exiting the child welfare system to live with their relatives.

DCFS already spends money to provide mental health services, social workers, and other services for children placed in foster care homes and agencies. They just don't do it for children they place with relatives. By investing money to support relative caregivers, we actually save much more money in prison, health care and other costs associated with the aftermath of dealing with young people who have been further abused in the foster care system.

People like Debra are heroes, preventing thousands of children from being abused and neglected. They should be applauded and supported, not condemned. As far the "heritage" of these families, the issue of abuse and neglected children has no color, the last time I checked.

To st. jones: Have you ever heard of the word compassion, if i recall after the new deal FDR, emphasized that the government has a responsibility to protect and empower the rights of its citizens, why? because we have greedy people in this free market society, in which peoples morals are put at odds because they have to survive and gain financial means in order to put food on the table, this doesnt apply to only single mothers, but to broken homes of domestic violence. Ever heard of strucutural violence. Again compassion, whats the matter with you. You guys are worried about corporations and jobs, we'll after WW2 until the late 1970's we taxed companies. We stopped taxing the corporations and let the free market be unregulated thanks to people like nixon and ronald reagan, and look at where we are now. we taxed these corporations because they have a social responsibility, because its not all about profit, what about service to our community, what happened to enron, what happened to all these corporations that get welfare from the governement. lets say you make a billion dollar profit, and you dont want to be taxed 100 million dollars for the betterment of our society where people that come from disadvantaged backgrounds can get some help they deserve. 900 million dollars out of 1 billion in profit its still alot of money. What about the oil companies that dont get taxed in california, you talk about job cuts when the answer is on stop giving such huge loans to companies and central banks around the world where they should be spent on the american people. Shame on you, heritage? what heritage, be tolerant because this nation since the start has been a place of diversity, we saw this with the germans, the italians, the irish (who at what point where considered lowered than blacks.) Ever heard of budweiser, i dotn think thats an english word it sound german to me, ever heard of st. patricks day a catholic holiday. heritage you should be ashamed of yourself, give rights to people not institutions.

Mr Therolf continues to only report 1/2 the truth. DCFS is involved in a law case called Katie A which requires mental health services for children in their system. Those in home of a relative have a more difficult time getting in to Medi-Cal Mental Health services. Mental Health professional workers work with the DCFS CSWs seeing children and families. The number of children, 37,000, can not be totally serviced by so few. Maybe Dr Charles Sophy, DO(not MD) could see some along with his private patients.

In response to Steve in particular and all who oppose in general, you may not be old enough to remember the Great Depression. During that time, the government offered support to those who desparately needed it; regardless of their upbring, or background. Mental health affects a broad spectrum of people in spite of heritage or any other factors. It would be foolish to think that one's mere heritage or the way a person is raised would contribute to the overwhelming need for additional relative care programs.

I am a relative caregiver and I speak from experience; not from a detached perspective full of assumptions. Relative caregivers are doing the government a favor by taking in thier family member's children. Annually, the government saves millions of dollars by placing children with relative caregivers instead of more costly foster care alternatives that often to do not properly address the needs of the children.

Relative caregivers are not asking for the govenment to spend much more than what they are already wasting, nor are relative caregivers asking for a handout. They are asking for a hand.

Take away the benefits illegals are getting and give it to Americans and legal immigrants who are deserving.

To curiousprl: It is sad when we associate people and human beings to a legal term that is only meant for an act, not essence, you do a disservice to humanity when you call another human being illegal. No human is legal or illegal, that is just a frame put out there by people who know how to use words in a campaign, such as Frank Luntz. I suggest you look him up. Undocumented immigrants if you didn't know get taxed more than receive benefits, they pay sales taxes, and their wages get taxed when they report someone else social security number. Last time i checked this countries philosophy was "no taxation without representation."
So let me ask you are you a systematical thinker? ever heard of systemic causation? Ask your self why is there a huge influx of people coming without documents from latin america, africa, and asia, and oh yes those europeans that come here with visas and decide to stay, for the most part if you agree that people need to have boundaries and those boundaries should be respected then i urge u then since a new law passed that characterizes corporations as individual/agents to follow the laws around the world, to hire people with respect and pay them the wages they need to life a comfortable life. not to pay them a meager dollar for the day. Go and research why many European and American countries go around the world and cheat people out of their money and taxes. How they love loans from the US government, that's welfare for the rich, why do the rich need help? And you blame it on the little guy. it is sad when we disregard human rights and forget that institutions have a responsibility for the public good.

I apologize from the 4th to the last sentence, i meant to say: Go and research why many European and American corporations, transnational corporations go around the world and cheat people out of their money and taxes, not only that but cheat the average american from a job here in the United states. How they love loans from the US government, that's welfare for the rich, why do the rich need help? And you blame it on the little guy. it is sad when we disregard human rights and forget that institutions have a responsibility for the public good.

This is America, Power to the People!

When are the parents going to take responsibility for their children? Were the children born pre-natally exposed to drugs because of their parents? Why didn't the grandparents do better in raising their children to be better and more responsible parents? I was raised that you do not depend on welfare. If you have a kid, you better take care of that kid yourself!

The problem with DCFS is that they under utilize their best people. I am a licensed therapist and unable to fully utilize my talents within the agency because of favoritism and racism against people who are not minorities within the department.


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