PANEL TO INVESTIGATE FOSTER CHILD DEATHS.
Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to establish an independent panel to oversee and conduct investigations into any fatalities involving young people served by the county's children's services agency.
The move comes after Supervisor Gloria Molina said she recently learned of a youth's death nearly five months after it occurred.
``We have an absolute responsibility to ensure that child fatalities involving youth from (the Department of Children and Family Services) are thoroughly investigated, and that any and all steps are taken to prevent similar tragic events from occurring,'' Molina said. ``But sometimes we receive reports from the inspector general six months to a year after the death occurred.''
An inspector-general position to investigate the deaths of foster children and recommend future preventative measures has been vacant since 2000 when Victor Greenberg left to become a court commissioner.
Greenberg's assistant, Michael Watrobski, has been serving as deputy inspector general.
The new panel will have full access to departmental records and personnel and the full support of departmental management. In child-fatality cases it will immediately begin assessing whether employee misconduct, departmental policy, or faulty training played a role.
``We'll work very closely with (DCFS) to develop a model patterned after ours,'' said Michael Gennaco, chief attorney for the Office of Independent Review, which was created in 2001 to review and recommend discipline on about 250 sheriff's cases each year.
Troy Anderson, (213) 974-8985