Los Angeles County supervisors this week called for an inquiry into the “root cause” behind hundreds of missed payments from the county’s child protection agency to foster care parents, group home managers and others depending on public assistance.
The missed payments, first reported by The Times last month, left many in dire straits. A group home manager said she had to borrow thousands of dollars from friends to make payroll. One young adult transitioning from the foster care system said he had to wait in food lines to eat. Another said she was ousted from her home for failing to make rent.
The problem stems from glitches in a new digital case file management system implemented by the Department of Children and Family Services, county officials said.
A motion passed at the board meeting Tuesday and co-written by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn said people depending on DCFS are still missing payments, even though the problem began months ago.
It also said the missed payments “may be more widespread than known.”
“The fact that [the delays] have not been remedied is unacceptable,” Hahn said in a news release. “Group homes depend on this money to pay their staff and foster parents and youth depend on these payments to survive.”
County leaders are also concerned about possible legal liability for the hardship caused by missing payments. The motion calls for DCFS to send “confidential communications” to the county counsel’s office every seven days “until total resolution is achieved.”
Specifically, supervisors are seeking answers to the cause of the missed payments, the “steps taken this far to resolve and distribute funds” to people affected, the “resources necessary for total resolution,” and “a plan to distribute all back pay by March 14.”