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L.A. County taps Michael Nash to lead new Office of Child Protection

L.A. County taps Michael Nash to lead new Office of Child Protection
Michael Nash at an adoption proceeding in 2014. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Michael Nash, the former presiding judge of Los Angeles County's Juvenile Court, is poised to become director of the county's new Office of Child Protection.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are expected to finalize the appointment at a Tuesday meeting. In the new role, Nash said he hopes to convene broad groups of people to help change the county's safety net for abused and neglected children. 

"I'm always concerned that we do the best job possible to listen to every voice in the system. Parents need to be heard. Children need to be heard," he said.

The $240,000-a year position was created in response to recommendations made by a special blue ribbon commission appointed after the beating death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez.

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The position was once dubbed "child welfare czar," but that job description has evolved to no longer include hiring and firing power over the director of the Department of Children and Family Services. Nash would also have no formal power to move money and resources.

Nash noted, however, that he will have the ability to lead conversations among various county departments and community members about new proposals -- and he will carry the imprimatur of the the Board of Supervisors.

"When those proposals come up, the board may act on them," he said. "What's exciting is that I will have the chance to work with the best of what Los Angeles County has to offer and to work with them at a high level."

Nash, who served as presiding judge for over two decades, has been a frequent critic of policies implemented by DCFS Director Philip Browning, including the decision to increase the number of children removed from families because of abuse and neglect.

But Nash said the two have a good working relationship.

"I expect to work with him closely," Nash said.

Twitter: @gtherolf 

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