Join us at 9 a.m. as we talk with Times reporter Garrett Therolf about a Times' report on Teens Happy Homes, a private foster care agency responsible for hundreds of children.
A decade ago, a team of Los Angeles County auditors delivered a damning assessment of the agency.
Agency workers bought beer and cigarettes with public funds intended for mistreated children, auditors found. It billed the state and county more than $100,000 for care it never provided. Employees wrote checks to themselves worth thousands of dollars and kept no receipts.
The auditors' conclusion: The county needed to give the agency closer supervision or cancel its contract.
But not only did the county Board of Supervisors continue the Teens Happy Homes contract, it tripled its value, from $1 million a year to as much as $3.6 million, according to the agency's tax returns. Between 2008 and 2011, 1,154 children lived in its homes.
Interviews and an examination of public records by The Times found that questionable financial practices proliferated in recent years. At the same time, children repeatedly suffered abuse and neglect.