L.A. County faces backlog of child abuse cases (2)

08:25, May 17, 2010      

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Other contributing factors include:

-- Evidence was often insufficient to fairly judge the situation or had been improperly gathered;

-- Computer databases with information about family histories are notoriously incomplete and cumbersome to use.

The paper said in an earlier report last year that more than a dozen children had died of abuse or neglect in each of the two previous years after coming to the attention of the department.

Internal investigations subsequently determined that most of those cases involved errors by the department that probably contributed to the fatalities, and that the errors were concentrated in the unit that handles emergency response.

Department officials responded by ordering more interviews, additional managerial oversight and other duties intended to improve the thoroughness of investigations.

But the work proved to be too much for the county's 596 emergency response unit workers -- up only 80 from a year ago. They are charged with investigating about 160,000 tips that arrive each year through the child abuse hotline. Since July, about 7.5 percent of the cases opened based on those tips remained unresolved after 60 days or more, the paper said.

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