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January 5, 2014 | By Seema Mehta and Abby Sewell
Last month's strike by Los Angeles County public employees, their first in more than a decade, was short-lived. But the effects are still being felt by some families entangled in the foster care system. Anthony Rogers flew to Los Angeles from North Carolina for a Dec. 13 custody hearing involving his 15-month-old grandson, who had been placed in protective care after his son had an altercation with the child's mother. Rogers and his wife had been in regular communication with social workers about caring for the child.
December 18, 2013 | By Saba Hamedy
The U.S. Department of Agriculture fined Harvard Medical School $24,036 on Wednesday for 11 Animal Welfare Act violations, including four animal deaths, from February 2011 through July 2012. The government's decision to fine the university wraps up an ongoing investigation of the medical school's animal facilities. One facility, the New England Primate Research Center , located in Southborough, Mass., announced its decision to close in April. In a document sent to the university's Center for Animal Resources and Comparative Medicine, USDA officials outlined the alleged violations.
December 16, 2013 | By Tiffany Hsu
Several major retailers, including H&M, ASOS and Calvin Klein, have halted production of items made with the fur of angora rabbits following the release of an undercover video showing the animals shrieking as the fibers are pulled from their skin. But Zara is not one of them, according to animal-welfare activists, who are now turning their attention to the Spanish brand. The retailer -- a division of the world's largest apparel retailer, Inditex Group -- still has more than 60 angora items for sale on its website, according to advocacy group SumOfUs.
December 10, 2013 | By Abby Sewell
Los Angeles County social workers will return to work and resume contract negotiations Wednesday after a six-day strike, union officials announced Tuesday evening. The child welfare workers went on strike - the first by county workers in more than a decade - after months of contentious negotiations. All of the 55,000 workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 721, including the social workers, have been without a contract for the last two months. SEIU Local 721 President Bob Schoonover credited a rally staged by social workers and supporters Tuesday outside the county Hall of Administration with bringing county officials back to the table.
December 6, 2013 | By Seema Mehta
During a raucous rally of striking social workers on Friday, Los Angeles County child-welfare chief Philip Browning made a surprise appearance before the crowd and urged them to return to work. “I support social workers, but I want you to come back to work,” he said, prompting sustained boos from the crowd of several hundred county employees rallying in front of the headquarters of the county Department of Children and Family Services. “We need you.” Friday marked the second day of a strike by county social workers, with similar numbers participating as the previous day. They protested at work sites throughout the county before heading to the late-morning rally, where they were addressed by elected officials, including U.S. Reps.
December 6, 2013 | By Seema Mehta and Abby Sewell
Striking social workers took to the picket lines for a second day Friday, with no progress reported in negotiations with Los Angeles County and a probable escalation of work-site actions next week by the county's largest public-employee union. "We intend to ramp it up," said Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU Local 721, which represents 55,000 county employees - including 3,600 social workers and their supervisors - who have been working without a contract for two months. "This is not going to be an easy fight.
November 26, 2013 | By Abby Sewell
Los Angeles County supervisors gave a six-month extension to a citizens' commission that was asked to recommend reforms to the county's frequently troubled Department of Children and Family Services and other agencies responsible for child welfare. The Board of Supervisors voted in June to create the 10-member commission , which is made up of educators, child advocates, retired judges and law enforcement officials, and includes former DCFS head David Sanders. The move was prompted by the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez in May. The boy's mother and her boyfriend were charged with murder and torture.
November 25, 2013 | By Robert Greene
A special commission to review Los Angeles County's child protection system convened for the first time on Aug. 1 - and then promptly vanished from the headlines. Whatever happened to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection? It's a front-burner question because the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is considering a motion to extend the panel's life, giving it until April 18, 2014, to file its final report. If the motion is rejected, the commission sunsets at the end of this year.
September 23, 2013 | Sandy Banks
The college application essay was the tipoff. It was beautifully written but painfully rendered; a high school student's story of her family's tumble from middle-class stability into homelessness and addiction. It helped Danielle Stone earn a spot at UCLA. But it also drew her family into a yearlong odyssey through Los Angeles County's child welfare system. A teacher who read the essay notified social workers. They visited the family in the San Pedro motel they moved into after a string of evictions.
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