Supervisors Ask Audit of Children's Agency

Saying the mission of the county Department of Children and Family Services is to "care for kids, not cook the books," the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors asked its in-house auditor to investigate reports that payments were withheld from thousands of foster parents to help balance the agency's books.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich asked Tuesday for a report on the matter, after a story in The Times that said the children's agency delayed $4.6 million in payments last June for 8,000 foster children.

Sources said the checks were stopped until the new fiscal year July 1 in a vain attempt by the agency to close a budget gap of $15 million.

Department Director Peter Digre denied that the delay was a budget-balancing maneuver. He said the payments were stopped temporarily because a computer software error would have resulted in substantial overpayments that could not have been recovered.

The county auditor-controller is expected to report back on the matter Oct. 13.

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