On MLK Hospital and DCFS: Our Foster Children Gently Weep
As an amalgamation of failed policies, roads to nowhere and well-meaning strategies that lead to disappointment and letdown, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) have few equals in obfuscation and futility.
About the only thing the author can reference of similar ineptitude and human damage would be the recent closure of Martin Luther King County Hospital (MLK) which required a complete closure and a several year “do over,” before a reopening could be considered.
One of the requirements by UCLA and other entities stipulated before discussions began to reopen this very necessary hospital was a restriction against political and Board of Supervisor interference to prevent a repetition of the sustained decrepit conditions that existed for decades.
A comparison between DCFS and MLK Hospital is not a comparison of apples and oranges. Actually, there are many similarities. Both entities suffered from years of neglect. And both organizations were damaged by racial, community and government political interference that frequently clashed with the stated goals of meeting the best needs of clients and patients.
Both organizations endured a multitude of directors that changed so frequently, that tenure of more than a couple years, was seen as a stabilizing factor. Directors of both organizations were pushed out frequently, mostly for political reasons, and often left under a cloud of whispered, unproven allegations that seemed to disappear once the new leader was installed.
Along with frequent changes in leadership, both DCFS and MLK cynically imposed policies which were changed and altered, added and added again according to the political flavor of the moment, and often in reaction to some horrific incident involving death, mayhem, criminality, stupidity and a dash of indifference since victims had little voice and even less influence within the electorate.
MLK Hospital (which had a nasty nickname of “Killer King”) was eventually shut down and emptied since reform was no longer seen as a viable alternative. Competent employees were transferred to other locations within the county. Others found new lines of work, or left the area to work their magic and expertise within more appreciative confines.
Both organizations had huge difficulties in retaining highly trained personnel since both destinations were seen by their best workers as a proving ground or stepping stone towards a more lucrative and positive career choice after doing ones time in the trenches.Continued on the next page