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Citation for Foster Care Agency to Stand

L.A. County is still using a government office as housing for children in need of homes.

June 22, 2005|Jack Leonard | Times Staff Writer

State licensing officials said Tuesday that they have rejected efforts by Los Angeles County to overturn a citation for operating an illegal foster care home at a converted government office where children spent hours waiting for a more permanent home.

Officials with the county's Department of Children and Family Services have about three weeks to submit a plan explaining how they will eliminate the practice, said Andrew Roth, a spokesman for the California Department of Social Services.

County officials said they plan to continue their appeals but added they have made strides in reducing the number of children housed at the Wilshire Boulevard office building.

In recent weeks, officials said, the department has negotiated new contracts with one group home and roughly 20 other foster home agencies to provide at least 30 beds for foster children around the clock.

"That's a pretty big change," said David Sanders, director of the county's Department of Children and Family Services.

The new contracts have already helped, Sanders said. So far this month, no children have spent more than 23 hours at the office. Such lengthy stays were at the center of the state's decision in May to cite the county.

Nevertheless, Sanders said the department must still find ways to place 18- and 19-year-olds who are taken into custody by social workers during investigations of abuse or neglect.

Over the last two years, hundreds of young people have spent the night in the 300-square-foot converted staff lounge while social workers tried to find them a more permanent place to stay.

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