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Los Angeles County welfare agency refuses to release any information on the recent deaths of 12 children

February 12, 2010 |  5:36 pm


Los Angeles County's embattled child welfare agency has clamped down on the release of information about 12 recent deaths among children who have passed through the child welfare system.

The decision follows a series of articles in The Times last year that detailed flawed casework. The cases prompted some reforms at the county's Department of Children and Family Services, including enhanced training for social workers.

But the state law that allowed much of the information to reach the public has been a source of discontent for Department of Children and Family Services Director Trish Ploehn. She has complained to a reporter that the law unfairly "denigrated" her department by placing such a harsh spotlight on the most tragic cases.

This week, she declined to release any records in the 12 most recent child deaths, invoking a provision of the law that allows prosecutors to keep parts of the records confidential during a criminal inquiry.

Among 31 deaths over the last two years that met the county's standard for abuse or neglect, Ploehn said she identified 18 cases in which social workers committed serious errors. The group of 12 cases now being withheld includes some of those cases.

Read the full story here.

-- Garrett Therolf