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Overview of the Los Angeles Times' Innocents Betrayed series

December 30, 2009

Latimes.com/childdeaths

Over the last year, The Times has reported the deaths of children who had been under the oversight of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. The entire series -- including articles, photo galleries, videos and graphics -- can be found at latimes.com/childdeaths. Among the key findings from the series:

* At least 268 children who had passed through the child welfare system died from January 2008 through early August 2009. Only 18 of the deaths fit the county's definition of abuse or neglect, and the rest prompted little or no review. Yet a significant number of the deaths involved flawed investigations or faulty case management.

* In 2008 alone, the county determined that 14 children died of abuse or neglect after prior contact with its Department of Children and Family Services. Department Director Trish Ploehn acknowledged her social workers committed critical errors in 10 of the cases.

* For at least 18 years, Los Angeles County has repeatedly received urgent reminders that its child abuse investigations are hindered because its agencies don't share vital information about potentially abused or neglected children. But solutions approved by county supervisors have been doomed by bureaucratic infighting, turf wars, privacy concerns and limited political attention spans.

Source: Garrett Therolf

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