Carissa Spurlock, Torrance DCFS Office, is a champion for families. She goes above and beyond to keep families together and reunite families wherever possible. In one case, a child’s grandmother…Read The Full Story »
The safety of the more than two million children in Los Angeles County is the highest priority and fundamental mission of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) where we believe that every child deserves to grow up in a loving and safe environment. The information gathered in this report is part of our continuous effort to assess our system and improve the practices and policies that serve at-risk children and families. While we know that we are unable to control human behavior, DCFS will always invest in prevention and intervention efforts to stop cycles of abuse, work to keep children safe, and aspire to prevent death due to abuse or neglect.
State law protects the confidentiality of anyone that comes into contact with the child welfare system to protect the privacy of children, their siblings, and family members and the deeply personal matters that they face. These confidentiality laws make juvenile case files confidential and severely restrict the information that DCFS is permitted to share with the public. Nevertheless, DCFS strives to be as transparent as the law permits in our work serving the most vulnerable children in Los Angeles County so that the public can understand the circumstances of these children and DCFS’ work to safeguard them.
Los Angeles County has decided to release statistical information in this report on all of the deaths reported to its Child Protection Hotline, so that it can be easily accessed by the public and the media in an effort to keep the public informed.
Across the nation, local child welfare agencies work to keep all children safe and try to prevent any fatalities. California overall, and Los Angeles County in particular, has a child mortality rate that is comparatively lower than that of similarly-sized regions as indicated in this chart.
But even in the face of these improvements, one child death is still one too many. It is our ardent hope, that through our evolving practice, and with the full partnership and commitment of our cross-sector partners, our local communities, and advocates, we will continue to see a decline and do what we can to help make sure that no child is taken too soon.
*Data Source: Children’s Bureau Child Welfare Outcome Reports and Data Site
The child fatality rate is per 100,000 children in the state’s child population under age 18.
The data in this report cover the child fatalities in three categories:
The data also cover whether or not there was previous DCFS referral history on the family, regardless of the status of a referral or case when the fatality occurred. For example, a child may have had an open case with DCFS in 2014 that since closed, and in 2017 they were killed in a gang-related shooting. Such a death would be included in the deaths described in this report.
The information reflects all fatalities reported to the Child Protection Hotline (CPH)* and determinations made as of May 31, 2020.**
*This report does not include the fatalities reported to the CPH when the deceased child had an open case or referral in another County at the time of death.
**Note: The information on this website may change as facts change, such as determinations made by the Coroner or a law enforcement agency upon completing their investigations. In addition, other entities such as Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN), Coroner, etc., gather and track information and data on child fatalities, compiled with different criteria and through other sources. As a result, their data may not match what is provided in this report.
There are specialized sections within DCFS tasked with analyzing child fatalities reported to the Department. One unit, otherwise known as the Child Fatality and Near Fatality (CFNF) section, analyzes child fatalities and near fatalities that are reported to DCFS when there is an open DCFS case or referral, or where there has been prior involvement with DCFS and there is suspicion or determination that the fatality or near fatality was the result of parental/caregiver abuse and/or neglect. This section thoroughly analyzes the child welfare records related to these incidents in order to provide lessons learned and to inform policy and practice with the goal of improving child welfare. In addition to the CFNF section, there is also a Senate Bill 39 section which analyzes all child fatalities and near fatalities reported to DCFS to determine if those incidents were the result of abuse and/or neglect, so that legally permissible information and portions of juvenile records can be released to the public upon request.
*This report does not include the fatalities reported to the CPH when the deceased child had an open case or referral in another County at the time of death and the data is as of 5/31/2020.
**A child is defined as having DCFS history if the deceased child or their siblings or half siblings, were previously referred to DCFS as a potential victim of abuse or neglect, even if that referral was closed prior to their death and even if the facts of the previous referral are completely unrelated to the circumstances that led to their death. In addition, if the family had a referral that was evaluated out, that is still considered history.