Friday, July 5, 2002
Board of Supervisors Ousts County Children’s Services Chief Anita Bock
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
The controversial director of Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services resigned yesterday following a closed Board of Supervisors session Tuesday at which the supervisors unanimously agreed not to keep her on.The board is expected to act Tuesday to name Marjorie Kelly, former state child welfare administrator in the Gov. Pete Wilson administration, to lead the beleaguered department as interim director pending a nationwide search for a permanent chief.
Bock was brought in two and a half years ago to bring stability to the department after the tumultuous tenure of Peter Digre, who himself was brought in to right the department after state probes of mismanagement.
The department operates on a $1.1 billion annual budget and is responsible for the welfare of thousands of foster children and juvenile court wards.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said the board reached a mutual agreement with Bock on her resignation.
“I think we want to see a more intense, a more urgent management of the challenges that we face,” he said.
Bock went against the wishes of Yaroslavsky and Supervisor Mike Antonovich when she appealed a court ruling requiring social workers to get a court waiver before canceling visits to foster children. On May 15, the state Supreme Court rebuffed the appeal.
And Bock was also questioned by members of the Board of Supervisors about calls that went unanswered on the county’s child abuse hotline and the deaths of several children in foster care.
Antonovich welcomed Bock’s resignation.
“This gives the county a new beginning and opportunity of finding homes for our foster children and developing comprehensive programs for our emancipated youth,” Antonovich said in a statement.
However, Yaroslavsky had some kind words for the departing official, saying Bock “brought a passion and a commitment to kids that cannot be questioned. Certainly that’s what attracted us to her in the first place, and she did not disappoint us on that front,” he said.
A new director will be called upon to tackle caseload problems and improve the foster care and adoptions programs, Yaroslavsky said.
Bock was the Florida Department of Children and Families’ district administrator for Miami/Dade and Monroe counties before she took the job as Los Angeles County’s top child welfare official.
“I recognize that to be truly effective and successful as a system’s reformer in an agency this large and complex, and with this many stakeholders, you need strong and unified board support,” Bock said in a statement.
“I think DCFS is one of the finest child welfare agencies in the nation, and I have felt privileged and honored to serve the children, the staff, the community and the county,” she said.
According to the DCFS, Bock resigned “as the three-year commitment she made to the county draws to a close.”
County chief administrator David Janssen said Bock “said when she was hired it would take at least three years to make changes in the department.
“There was no three year commitment by us,” he said.
For the past several weeks, the board conducted annual evaluations in closed-session of all the county’s department heads.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company