On an unseasonably warm January afternoon a case worker with the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services approached a mid-century apartment complex in Pomona to perform one of the most emotionally charged tasks in public service.
Flanked by police officers, she passed a cluster of five skinny palms, entered the building’s courtyard and rapped on a door.
Inside, with two of her four children sitting quietly, Monique Baker raced about preparing for a move the family had scheduled for two days later. Cracking open the door, she instantly recognized what was happening.
Within minutes, the officers were leading away Baker’s two oldest...