Investigative Atty. Appointed to Investigate Dept. of Children and Family Services
The lead attorney for a unit responsible for investigating the Department of Children and Family Services was appointed today by the County Board of Supervisors.
Rosemarie Belda, currently principal deputy county counsel, already provides legal advice to the department. Beginning Monday, she will change roles and serve as special counsel to the board and provide an independent legal review of child deaths and serious incidents of child abuse or neglect.
Belda will also offer recommendations to improve the county's delivery of services to children at risk of abuse or neglect.
Policies, procedures, systems and training at the Department of Children and Family Services are all under review by county staff in the wake of recent child deaths.
The deaths of Dae'von Bailey, Jasmine Granados and Lars Sanchez, all the apparently the subject of reports to the department, all occurred within the span of about a month this summer.
The department has been requested by the board to determine what went wrong, working together with the county's Auditor-Controller, Office of County Investigations and District Attorney's Office.
Statistics cited by the Los Angeles Times show that in the last three years, a dozen or more children have died annually as a result of abuse or neglect, even after their cases came to the attention of social workers.
Belda will now take the lead role in investigating these cases.
Belda has more than 22 years experience practicing law in California, including 17 years practicing child welfare law.
Belda's appointment, which was unanimously supported by the board, carries an annual salary of $193,045.