Education, Arts & Culture

Children & Family Services

The spike in recent months of fatal child abuse and neglect cases shows we must intensify our efforts to save our children.

There is no quick fix to the tremendous societal problems underlying the crisis, which include extreme poverty, multi-generational patterns of abuse and an overburdened child welfare system.

But there are problems within the governmental infrastructure – overseen by the Board of Supervisors — that we can solve.

One of these is the failure to create a strong database that social workers and others could use to better spot dangerous situations. Such a computerized “early warning system” could, for example, give social workers evidence of child abuse gathered by law enforcement officers.

For more than a decade, County officials and the Board have said social workers, law enforcement, mental health and other officials need to be able to share information through a common network.

After years of sluggish progress, the Family and Children’s Index (FCI) began operation in 2005, based on 1990’s technology. The outdated system is severely limited and has not had an impact in preventing fatal abuse in Los Angeles County.

I believe better systems exist. Various objections are cited to implementing such systems in Los Angeles County, from privacy concerns to assertions that state laws do not allow methods used successfully in other parts of the country.

This is not a time for excuses. If our state laws need to be amended they can be. We can balance privacy and safety.

To be sure, technology is not a panacea.

I know that in the long term, children’s health and safety is possible only when society is safe and healthy. Poverty, poor education and lack of health care all combine to put children in danger. Children are at risk when a mentally ill parent is not receiving regular treatment.

When a parent lacks the education to properly nurture a child physically and emotionally, a child may be jeopardized. Danger also lurks where a lack of transportation, a shortage of medical clinics and unsafe streets stand as obstacles to everything from doctor’s appointments to outdoor play.

We in the Second District are attacking this problem on all fronts. We must do so because so many of the children in jeopardy are ours; but we will take on this challenge with both the intensity and thoughtfulness it warrants.

Meanwhile, technology may not be a cure, but it is part of the treatment. We must give the protectors of minors in the County’s custody or care, adequate tools for their mission to safeguard children. We wouldn’t think of sending soldiers to war carrying jammed rifles; we can’t go on asking social workers to use an incomplete children’s data network just because it’s what we now have.

The foster children of Los Angeles County deserve better.

VIDEO: Newsmakers: Helping at-risk children

Adrienne Alpert speaks with Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor Mike Antonovich regarding at-risk children in the County. The program aired on Sunday, November 14, 2010.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Applications Open For Grants For Nonprofit Arts Organizations To Hire Summer Interns

Deadline to apply is December 15 – Free workshop scheduled November 18

Funding for non-profit arts organizations to hire college undergraduate interns in summer 2011 is available from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. The guidelines, application and application instructions for the Arts Internship Program are now available on the Arts commission’s Web site. Visit www.lacountyarts.org/internship.html or go to www.lacountyarts.org and click on “Internships.”

The program is for Los Angeles County-based nonprofit performing, presenting (including film and media organizations with a presenting program), arts service and literary arts organizations that are interested in mentoring an undergraduate college student for ten weeks during summer 2011. Grants of $2,500 to $3,500, depending on organizational budget size, to be used to pay interns are awarded to successful applicant organizations. To support the internships, Los Angeles County, through its Arts Commission, will give grants totaling $250,000 to approximately 75 arts organizations throughout the County. The deadline to submit an application is Wednesday, December 15, 2010.

A free application workshop will be held on Thursday, November 18 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Arts Commission offices, 1055 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 800, in downtown Los Angeles. To sign up for the workshop please visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2011internapp or go to www.lacountyarts.org, then click on “Internships.”

Organizations interested in this program should review the guidelines before beginning an application and be aware of the following:

Only nonprofit arts organizations that possess 501(c)(3) status and are not part of a college or university are eligible for the program, including municipal arts agencies and municipal performing arts organizations.

Each organization may request only one full-time intern.

Organizations with budgets over $1.5 million are required to provide a cash match of $500.

Organizations with budgets greater than $4 million are required to provide a cash match of $1,000.

The purpose of the County’s program is to provide undergraduate students with meaningful on-the-job training and experience in working in nonprofit arts organizations, while assisting arts organizations to develop future arts leaders.

Back to School: How To Keep Students Safe and Healthy

With the start of the school year just around the corner, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has tips on how to keep your child safe and healthy so that they can focus on their studies and thrive, both at home and school.

“If you teach children healthy habits now, they will stick with those habits long-term,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. “Give your kids the head-start they need to live long, healthy and productive lives.”

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