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L.A. Now Live: County terminates foster care facility contract

June 11, 2013
  • Teens Happy Home foster care agency on Western Avenue.
Teens Happy Home foster care agency on Western Avenue. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to cancel its decades-long relationship with a foster care contractor with a history of misspending and substantiated child abuse committed by the foster parents it recruited and supervised.

Join the discussion at 9 a.m. Wednesday as we talk with Times reporter Garrett Therolf about the supervisors' decision and what is ahead for the county and Teens Happy Homes.

Supervisors Gloria Molina and Michael D. Antonovich had pushed for the county to cut ties with Teens Happy Homes following a report in The Times regarding the agency.

From  2008 to 2011, 1,154 children lived in Teens' group home and foster family homes.

Over the same three-year period, 240 allegations of abuse or neglect were filed on behalf of youths at Teens' homes, a Times analysis of child abuse hot line data found. Teens' rate of nearly two allegations for each home was more than two times the average for the state.

A child had died in the care of a woman chosen by Teens despite a severe abuse history. Documents and recordings showed that Teens’ chief executive had improperly enriched herself with money intended for abused children. And a foster youth deemed "credible" by authorities said Teens staff regularly placated youths with drugs and alcohol.

Under the terms of Tuesday's decision, the county will give Teens 90 days' notice that its contract is being terminated. The contract allows the county to terminate the relationship with no need to show cause and no penalty for taxpayers, county officials said. 

The Department of Children and Family Services was ordered to help Teens foster parents seek new approval by the state or other private foster care contractors so that children in their homes can remain in place if they are deemed safe. 

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