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Governor signs bills aimed at improving child-abuse investigations

October 1, 2010 |  1:38 pm

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a trio of bills to improve the quality of child-abuse investigations and increase support for foster children when they turn 18 years old.

Two of the bills are aimed at improving the Los Angeles County database that provides social workers with information about a family's history during a child-abuse investigation.

The database, known as the Family and Children's Index, has struggled for years to efficiently collect the information and transmit it in a timely way to Department of Children and Family Services investigators.

AB 2322 by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), authorizes the inclusion of information regarding crimes against a child by any people living in a child's home. Social workers currently access data about convictions by contacting county law enforcement, but then must wait days or even weeks for the information. 

AB 2229 by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) eliminates the need to form a three-person committee every time information is shared between separate county departments during a child-abuse investigation.

"Nurses, social workers and law officers complain that valuable time is lost while responding to an emergency child-abuse problem because they have trouble finding a third member required to share confidential information during an investigation," Brownley said. "AB 2229 puts the child's safety first by allowing a team to convene with just two members, ensuring no time is lost in responding to a report of child abuse."

Also signed into law was AB 12 by Assemblyman Jim Beall (D-San Jose), which extends transitional support to foster youth up to age 21 in an effort to reduce homelessness, unemployment and criminality.

-- Garrett Therolf at the L.A. Hall of Administration