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DCFS STAFF DISCIPLINED OVER DEATH SOCIAL WORKER, BOSS FIRED; TWO SUSPENDED.

Byline: Troy Anderson Staff Writer

A county social worker and supervisor were fired and another pair suspended after the death of a Canoga Park toddler who authorities allege was beaten to death by his mother, officials said Tuesday.

Investigators determined that social workers had visited 2-year-old Ivan Merlos six times after receiving reports that he was being mistreated, including once when he had a broken leg, but did not take him away from his mother.

He died Oct. 1 of massive internal bleeding that authorities say was caused by a beating. His mother, Claudia Merlos, a 19-year-old dwarf, was charged with murder and has pleaded not guilty.

Department of Children and Family Services Director David Sanders told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that poor note-taking by a half-dozen social workers and supervisors who had visited the home provided little information about the family's troubled history. Social workers also took the mother's word that she had not abused her son.

Sanders said the investigation is ongoing, and more disciplinary action may be taken.

``I'm constantly troubled by what we find when one of these deaths occurs,'' county Supervisor Gloria Molina said. ``When we look into these deaths, we uncover all kinds of problems.

``I would rather, when we look into these cases, that we find we did the best we could. But when we looked into this case, we found that was not the case.''

Molina said a DCFS audit of 100 random case files found social workers had documented crucial information about the care and treatment of children in only 18 to 30 percent of the cases.

``This is a perfect example of where social workers did not document what was going on,'' Molina said. ``We mandated over six months ago that all social workers input this information into a computer system we paid millions of dollars for and some are continuing to resist documenting these cases.''

Tony Bravo, president of the Service Employees International Union, Local 535, which represents 3,500 social workers, said social workers already spend 45 percent of their day behind a computer.

But Sanders said it's critical his workers document their visits to families and he's working to eliminate the need for social workers to prepare duplicate information for dependency court and the state computer system, freeing up some of their time.

Troy Anderson, (213) 974-8985

troy.anderson(at)dailynews.com
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GRANDMA
Grandma Clemens (Member): Social Workers 4/7/2010 4:38 PM
I have a Grandson that is currently being supervised a Social Service Worker at the Canoga Park office and it makes me sick how they do nothing about the abuse of drugs this man is doing in front of his son.This has been reported several times and all they can say is the Doctor prescribed it.Well when you have several different doctors and you take way more then what is prescribed thats ABUSE.The man can't talk, walk or focus.They can never catch him doing this because they let him know days in advance they are coming. I called Social Services on Sunday because when I took my Grandson home Saturday his father was LOADED and today is Wednesday and no one has called me back.GREAT JOB YOUR DOING THERE SOCIAL SERVICES IN CANOGA PARK!!!!!!!

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 25, 2004
Words:397
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