County supervisors support creating child welfare board

San Diego County supervisors took a major step March 12 toward creating a board that will focus on better care for abused or neglected children.

The board unanimously voted on first reading to create the Child and Family Strengthening Advisory Board of San Diego County, which would absorb duties now held by the county Child Abuse Prevention Coordinating Council and work closely with the Polinsky Children’s Center Advisory Board and the San Diego County Foster Care Services Committee.

Supervisors will vote on formally adopting the ordinance at their March 26 meeting.

According to the county’s Health & Human Services Agency, a new board supports the Live Well San Diego vision “by ensuring services are provided to strengthen families so that children and families are healthy, safe and thriving.”

Before the vote, Chairwoman Dianne Jacob recommended her colleagues Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher to be co-chairs of the advisory board.

Helen Robbins-Meyer, county chief administrative officer, said last fall a temporary working group began looking at ways to help the county reach a standard of excellence in its child-welfare services. 

Young trauma victims can sometimes find themselves in a system without the necessary wrap-around services, she said.

“We want to establish a culture where the court listens closely to children, where foster parents are heard,” Robbins-Meyer said. “The county needs to foster these changes, but needs guidance from experts to keep a 360-degree perspective.”

Cox said that moving forward, it will be important for the new board to feature diverse perspectives when it comes to caring for children.

Supervisor Jim Desmond, who was also supportive, said that if even “one child falls through the cracks, it’s one too many.”

Several spoke in favor of a new advisory board, including Jeff Wiemann, executive director of Angels Foster Family Network. 

He said the board would provide better transparency, support social workers and hold child-welfare advocates accountable.

— City News Service

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