March 8, 2011 |
In California today, 60,000 children are wards of the state's foster-care system. They have been abused or neglected by their parents or guardians, and foster care is intended to be a crucial lifeline. Instead, kids thrown into the maw of a well-meaning but often callous bureaucracy continue to suffer. Some die or are abused. They are three times more likely to end up in jail than to graduate from a four-year college. And their fates are controlled by officials who take them from their homes, assign them to new ones and reunite them with parents who brutalized them ?
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 2, 2011 |
Children's advocates, judges and government officials told state legislators Tuesday that opening proceedings for dependency court would improve accountability and transparency for a key branch of the legal system that handles cases of child abuse, child neglect and foster care placements.? "There is a lot that is not good [in the dependency courts], and that's an understatement," Michael Nash, presiding judge of the juvenile courts for Los Angeles County, said at an oversight hearing before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in Sacramento.
November 21, 2010
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is easing out Trish Ploehn from her post as director of the Department of Children and Family Services. That's a welcome development. Ploehn has too often confused the morale of her employees with the well-being of the children her agency exists to protect. She has resisted public inquiry into shocking deaths, and she has withheld information from those entitled to examine it. For months, she has treated allegations of sloppy social work with tragic consequences as a public relations matter rather than a danger to children.
October 25, 2010
There's much to tell Re " 'Don't ask' order is put on hold," Oct. 21, and "Why fight it?" Opinion, Oct. 21 I prefer that "don't ask, don't tell" would go away immediately, but I think President Obama has it right. Judicial activism is sometimes necessary to protect our civil rights. The judge who initially placed an injunction on the policy did the right thing by waking people up to the gross injustice the Pentagon does to gay recruits and the massive damage "don't ask" does to our military readiness.
October 7, 2010 |
Dreams can be made or broken in Hollywood, so it is only fitting that a remarkable comeback story is taking place at Hollywood High. It started in January 2009, when Jeremi Ross, a freshman, was introduced to football Coach Ceasar Sandoval. He had been in and out of foster care and group homes since he was 3, and his last report card from Washington High was not good. "He literally had straight fails," Sandoval said. "Him and I had a heart-to-heart talk. I asked him can he promise me that he'll get a 2.0 and change his life.
September 17, 2010
For years, Washington and Sacramento foolishly threw away money by paying to place abused and neglected children with strangers, even after studies and experience showed conclusively that most would be better off with members of their extended families. Finally, in the last several years, policy has caught up with reality and government is ready to provide smarter, more cost-effective and results-oriented support to steer foster children to successful, independent adulthood. All that remains to get California on track is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature on AB 12, the landmark bill to align programs here with new, rational federal guidelines while pumping millions of dollars of federal money into the state — money that otherwise would be left on the table.
September 17, 2010 |
A partner in a large Los Angeles law firm and a 17-year-old kid from Compton wouldn't appear to have a lot in common. But both of our lives have been indelibly marked by the violence and neglect in our early lives, and changed by California's foster care system. So we speak from experience when we urge Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign a bill (AB 12) that would enable our state to collect federal dollars dedicated to boosting foster kids' chances of success. Miles was kidnapped and held for days by drug dealers in Sacramento when he was 2 years old, and at just 5 years old found his mother dead of a drug overdose.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 2, 2010 |
It can be lonely spending the summer in a mainly vacant college dormitory. But it's a worthwhile tradeoff for Daysi Espinoza, who's grateful to have a room at Cal State Fullerton to call home. For Espinoza and hundreds of other former foster youths attending California's public universities, dorm rooms provide a much-needed stable residence. While classmates can retreat to childhood bedrooms and their families' embrace, these students are often on their own and want to stay in their dorms during vacations.
July 15, 2010 |
In some cases, obese children should be removed from their homes, according to a group of child health specialists from England and Ireland. If parents fail to provide medical treatment for a child with a chronic disease like asthma or epilepsy, government welfare officials can put the young patient in foster care. Should they do the same for children who are obese — and therefore at risk of developing lifelong complications such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes?
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 6, 2010 |
A decade ago, every column I wrote about foster care yielded a torrent of phone calls, letters and messages from parents and social workers, carrying tales of heartless treatment, mindless judgments, unfair and unbending regulations. The torrent slowed to a trickle over the years -- a sign of more enlightened leadership and fewer children in foster care? Not if you listen to Candie Sampson, who wrote in response to my Saturday column on cuts to the county's child advocate system.