LOS ANGELES, CA – The Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisors Hilda L. Solis, First District, and co-authored by Janice Hahn, Fourth District, on creating a child welfare system for children and families of all languages and cultures.
Los Angeles County has the largest child welfare system in the State of California and one of the largest nationwide. With a growing population of diverse cultures and backgrounds, it is critical to ensure that the child welfare system is responsive to the unique needs of children, their families, and their communities.
“Our Department of Children and Family Services must support and enhance efforts to ensure all families are able to effectively navigate the child welfare system,” said Supervisor Solis. “This is a system that is often traumatic for children and families, and to that end, should not be made more inequitable by language and cultural barriers. I hope to bridge those disparities through this motion by involving community-based organizations such as Comunidades Indígenas en liderazgo (CIELO) that can help us truly deliver culturally responsive child welfare services.”
“Navigating the complexities of the Department of Children and Family Services is already a challenge, but adding language and cultural barriers can make it nearly impossible for families, resource families, and foster youth,” said Supervisor Hahn, who co-authored the motion. “We need to not only identify the existing problems in bridging language and cultural barriers but address them by building stronger community partnerships and hiring a diverse workforce.”
Recently, CIELO, which is Spanish for Indigenous Communities in Leadership, released a map highlighting the County’s Indigenous communities, showing the number of residents who speak Indigenous languages across the County from Pico-Union to Long Beach. These are communities integral to the fabric of our County, but often endure unacceptable language barriers making it hard to navigate systems. This extends to the child welfare system.
“We are so deeply grateful for Supervisor Solis championing expanded language access and culturally-responsive services to support Indigenous communities here in Los Angeles County,” said the executive director of CIELO. “As an Indigenous-women-led nonprofit advancing the rights of Central and South American Indigenous communities, CIELO knows first-hand that vital services are too often denied because of language barriers and the inability to recognize the unique needs of these communities. Thanks to this historic motion and the leadership of Supervisor Solis, the Department of Children and Family Services will more fully serve and support the thousands of Indigenous families who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. CIELO looks forward to our continued partnership with the Supervisor to expand language access across the entirety of county government.”
The motion approved today directs the County’s Department of Children and Family Services to report back in 60 days with a plan to establish partnerships with nonprofit organizations that serve diverse communities, expand cultural awareness training for the Department’s workforce to assist them in better identifying Indigenous children and families, an analysis of the languages spoken by the workforce, an analysis of languages spoken by the biological parents, children in foster care, and caregivers (including but not limited to resource families), how the Department currently tracks Indigenous children and families served and recommendations for improving data collection, the feasibility of instituting or increasing bilingual pay for the DCFS workforce, and a procedure to periodically conduct a data-driven assessment of DCFS’ language and culture readiness, and how to address identified opportunities.
The motion also directs the Department of Children and Family Services, working with the Office of Immigrant Affairs in the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, the Los Angeles County City/County Native American Indian Commission, the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, community-based organizations (e.g. CIELO, KFAM, and others), and stakeholders to review the services and programs offered to serve children and families in the child welfare system and report back with recommendations to reduce language and cultural barriers, enhance the American Indian Unit and the Asian Pacific Program, and strengthen the overall care and support of these children and families.
To view the full motion, click here.