LA County Child Protection Agency stands at a crossroads again as another director resigns amid child deaths

Bobby Cagle’s abrupt resignation as head of Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services this week limits a tumultuous period for the nation’s largest child protection agency and will force county leaders to contend with major political issues over how social workers respond to reports of abuse and neglect and choose to intervene in families.

DCFS is facing increasing scrutiny after a number of much-publicized deaths and injuries to children on their guard, including a 4-year-old boy in foster care who was admitted to a coma last month.

The agency is still struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which teachers and other compulsory journalists had far less contact with children, and court closures led to a skyrocketing backlog in cases.

And Cagle’s exit, which takes effect Dec. 31, comes as county leaders and a number of civilian groups have intensified calls for the DCFS to address racial and ethnic inequalities, including an over-representation of black children in foster care. Although 7.5% of LA County children are black, they account for more than 27% of children in foster care.

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