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Letters to the Editor: The social workers who failed Gabriel Fernandez deserved to be charged

A 2013 memorial service for Gabriel Fernandez
Family and friends attend a memorial service for Gabriel Fernandez in 2013.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As a former social worker who interacted with the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services, I feel compelled to respond to your editorial supporting the dismissal of charges against the DCFS staff involved with 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez before he died.

At the time Fernandez was being tortured and his teacher reported him, the DCFS was under extreme pressure to reduce the number of children removed from their homes. The county was instead trying to provide the various resources needed keep youth at home when at all possible.

There is only passing mention in the editorial of the charge of falsifying records, an obviously self-serving act.

The dismissal of charges against these four DCFS employees is egregious not only because they are released of any serious accountability for failing to protect Fernandez and allegedly falsifying records, but also because it may tarnish the credibility of all child welfare professionals, who are charged with making decisions based on what is safest for the child, not the agency.

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I feel a grave sense of disappointment that these four people in my profession fell short of the sacred duty they were required to perform. They had the chance to save Fernandez, but they turned their backs on him. That sickens me.

Sharon Bradley, Van Nuys

..

To the editor: It is very sad that Fernandez died, but the people who are responsible — his mother and her boyfriend — are already in jail. Anything more than that is overkill.

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I’m pretty sure that the social workers feel really bad about the whole situation, and they wish they would have done something different. They will have to live with this on their minds for the rest of their lives.

That is worse than prison time.

Deaine Crockham, Los Angeles


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