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A Major Step Forward in Protecting LA County Children

Friday, June 13, 2014

This week, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to establish a position for a countywide child protection executive to implement reforms in foster care and child protection—a landmark decision actively supported by a core group of SCG members.

Prior to the hearing, SCG convened a panel of experts for a funder conversation on recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection, created by the LA County Board of Supervisors following the tragic death of an eight-year-old boy. This powerful event featured Commission Chairman David Sanders, Executive Vice President of Systems Improvement at Casey Family Programs, and Aileen Adams, Co-Executive Director of the LA County Blue Ribbon Commission, along with SCG members Kim Belshé, Executive Director of First 5 LA, and Winnie Wechsler, Executive Director of the Anthony & Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation.

After this program, there was a great sense of urgency among SCG members who wanted to take action together by supporting swift approval and implementation of the recommendations on behalf of LA’s most vulnerable children. Winnie Wechsler helped to draft a letter of support, which was signed by 17 SCG members and sent to the entire Board of Supervisors.

SCG members were also out in full force at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting:

  • Wendy Garen, President and CEO, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and SCG Board Chair, spoke on behalf of all SCG members who signed the letter of support.
  • Winnie Wechsler, Executive Director, Anthony & Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation, testified on behalf of her Foundation and the nonprofit Foster Care Counts.
  • James E. Herr, Program Officer, California Community Foundation, testified on behalf of his Foundation.
  • Mary Odell, President, UniHealth Foundation, attended the hearing in support of the recommendations.

In the end, the Board of Supervisors formally approved the establishment of the Office of Child Protection, along with 40 other recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection.

KPCC quoted Gabriella Holt, a member of the Commission, on this critical step forward: "It's a big step for Los Angeles County as far as prioritizing child safety from a countywide vantage point," Holt said. "This is a countywide priority. This will help move those departments that are responsible for child protection services into a more comprehensive, coordinated unit so we don't have children falling through the cracks."

The Commission's Co-Executive Director Aileen Adams also shared with us: "The Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection could not have asked for more effective partners and supporters of our proposed reforms than SCG, which spearheaded a convening about our report, support letters, and public testimony. Your voices made a tangible difference in the debate and ultimate vote by the Board of Supervisors to support all of our recommendations. Your truly courageous and meaningful support will enhance the lives of our County's most vulnerable children."

Southern California foundations made a tremendous show of support through smart, coordinated action, and our collective voices helped to push through policy changes to improve the safety and well-being of our region's children. Thank you to all the individuals and organizations who contributed to this effort! I am honored that SCG was able to play a role in engaging funders around this issue, and I look forward to exploring further opportunities for shared learning and collective action among the SCG membership.


Chris Essel
President and CEO