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Foster Care Takes Love and Money

July 24, 2002

Re "Foster Children's Care Inadequate, Suit Says," July 19: I have custody of my two grandchildren out of Orange County courts. I live in L.A. County. I am unable to get help with child care and so far have not been given any expense money. To date I have spent, out of my funds, more than $800 in the month the children have been with me. Dental alone was $400.

The social services agency asks us to help take care of these children to keep them out of foster care and so they can be with family members, then refuses to even try to help us do a good job. Why can't the different counties work together on this? Why do children suffer because of bureaucracy?

I love my grandchildren but must ask if foster care might not be more beneficial to them than my love and caring. Do they have to choose between having relatives caring for them with love or strangers caring for them for the social services agency to be of help?

Inez Clinton

La Mirada

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I have watched the trials and tribulations of the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services from outside the system for many years and must point out that there are many skilled and dedicated employees of the agency who have worked under chaotic and sometimes brutal conditions to keep serving the children in their care. They have many years' experience in child welfare and are mature, thoughtful people who know better than anyone how badly the system is broken.

I have shared many glasses of wine and dinners with them, listened to their frustration over the lack of leadership at the highest departmental level, the lack of experience and dedication to child welfare and their struggles to keep children safe.

I have gone on "ride-alongs" with DCFS workers and watched them handle situations with skill, tact and a laser-like focus on the needs of the child in question.

As changes take place, as they must at the DCFS, I implore the Board of Supervisors to listen to those experienced employees--the ones who have worked tens of years in child welfare and who have good ideas about ways to heal the system. They know. And they care.

Linda Dacon

Montrose

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