Control of troubled children, probation agencies taken from L.A. County CEO
Los Angeles County supervisors Tuesday voted 3 to 2 to curtail the power of their chief executive, William T Fujioka, who has struggled to correct long-standing problems delivering services for children.
Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich, Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky voted to place the Department of Children and Family Services and the Probation Department under direct oversight of the county board. Supervisors Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas voted against the move.
The children and family services agency, which administers foster care, and the Probation Department, which handles juvenile delinquents, have both been plagued by problems during nearly four years of management by Fujioka.
Many of the issues at the Probation Department predate Fujioka's tenure and the agency has been under the oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice for many years because of civil rights violations. But the supervisors say little progress has been made addressing those concerns in recent years and the department is now threatened by a possible federal takeover.
Problems at the children and family agency surfaced more recently following disclosures that children died of maltreatment following county oversight. Some progress has been made in correcting systematic breakdowns that contributed to the fatalities, but supervisors have complained about the slow pace.
Fujioka has declined to comment during a weeks-long debate of his role in managing the departments. After Tuesday's vote, his spokesman, Ryan Alsop, said: "Whatever the board wants to do, we are going to do."
-- Garrett Therolf at the L.A. County Hall of Administration
Photo: William T Fujioka, in 2009. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times