Letters to the Editor: The all-too-familiar story of Anthony Avalos and DCFS failure

A photo of Anthony Avalos
A photo of Anthony Avalos is seen at a family member’s home in California City. Anthony died in Lancaster in 2018 at the age of 10.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Your article on the murder conviction of Anthony Avalos’ mother and her boyfriend noted that the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services “never made an attempt to remove the children from [the mother’s] custody and no DCFS employees have been disciplined in connection with the case.”

Having lived for three-quarters of a century, I can’t tell you how many times I have wept at this horrific story. It’s always the same: A helpless child is murdered by the parents or someone else, after the protection agency ignored multiple signs and warnings of abuse or torture. There is no accountability for the agents who failed to do their job.

What will it take to stop this endless train of tragedy? More money for more social workers? Better training and supervision? New laws enforcing accountability for social workers’ neglect?


Alas, no amount of money or training or legislation can instill common sense and compassion in an agent who does not already possess it. When will we, the people, ever care enough to demand that something instead of nothing be done? Shame on us all.

Preston Neal Jones, Hollywood


To the editor: I never read about how much work the DCFS does to help children and parents deal with sexual, physical and emotional abuse, in spite of high caseloads and salaries that are not commensurate with the work done.

I was a social worker in L.A. County from the 1960s to the 1980s, and I found the caseloads were high then. They are a lot worse now.

If The Times really wants to help, why doesn’t it write more about how inadequate the pay is for the high caseloads? Why not identify all the good work done over the years in a county where thousands of children are protected every single day?

Gerald Orcholski, Pasadena