Los Angeles County officials have failed to follow state law that requires them to publicly disclose child fatalities resulting from abuse or neglect, reports the Los Angeles Times, citing an independent audit released Monday. The violations involve “potentially dozens” of child fatalities, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. He said the audit indicates “an intent to withhold information from the public” by the Department of Children and Family Services.
The finding by the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review comes amid a growing debate about whether child welfare officials are underreporting deaths of children whose families previously had come to the department’s attention. In the audit, Michael Gennaco, chief attorney for the Office of Independent Review, noted a dramatic change last year in the amount of information released by the department, with disclosure in only four of 18 cases. Gennaco said the pattern has extended into 2010. The Times has been denied in repeated public records requests for information.