SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY
The Joint Legislative Audit Committee directed the California State Auditor to evaluate the department’s procedures and practices for responding to allegations of child abuse or neglect. The audit scope includes eight audit objectives. The table below lists the audit objectives and the methods we used to address them.
|1||Review and evaluate the laws, rules, and regulations significant to the audit objectives.||We reviewed relevant federal and state laws, regulations, and other background materials applicable to the department’s processes for responding to child abuse or neglect in Los Angeles County.|
|2||Evaluate the department’s responses to child abuse and neglect allegations to ensure it performs the following:||To address this objective, we judgmentally selected 30 risk assessments, 30 safety assessments, and 30 reunification assessments from fiscal years 2013–14 through 2017–18 and performed the tasks described below:|
|a. Provision of timely and accurate safety, risk and reunification assessments that appropriately determined the severity of risk to the child.||
|b. Provision of statutorily required background checks and history checks of all individuals who have access to the child.|
|c. Assessments that include a thorough review of previous allegations of abuse and neglect.|
|3||Determine the adequacy of the department’s investigations, based on factors such as timeliness, adherence to policies, thoroughness, and appropriate assessments leading to effective actions taken to ensure child safety.||We used the referrals and supporting documentation we obtained for Objective 2 to meet this objective.|
|4||Determine whether the department is performing required wellness checks on children for whom it is responsible.||
|5||To the extent the department is not performing assessments, investigations or wellness checks appropriately, identify the root cause of these deficiencies and propose solutions to address these causes.||We analyzed management processes for ensuring social workers and supervisors complied with state laws and departmental policies in our review of case files for Objectives 2, 3, and 4.
|6||Assess the adequacy of the department’s efforts to examine and transform its practices in response to the deaths of children for whom it had responsibility or at least some level of previous contact.||
|7||Evaluate whether the department has adequate processes to identify and protect LGBTQ youth.||
|8||Review and assess any other issues that are significant to the audit.||
Source: Analysis of Joint Legislative Audit Committee audit request number 2018-126 and information and documentation identified in the table column titled Method.
Assessment of Data Reliability
In performing this audit, we relied on the department’s case, referral, and assessment data. The Government Accountability Office, whose standards we are statutorily required to follow, requires us to assess the sufficiency and appropriateness of the computer‑processed information that we use to support our findings, conclusions, or recommendations. To evaluate these data, we performed electronic testing of the data, reviewed existing information about the data, and interviewed agency officials knowledgeable about the data. However, we did not perform accuracy and completeness testing of these data because they are from partially paperless systems and hard‑copy documentation was not always available for review. Further, any available source documents for open child welfare services cases are maintained by social workers at different locations, making testing cost‑prohibitive. Consequently, we found the data to be of undetermined reliability for the purposes of our audit. Although this determination may affect the precision of the numbers we present, there is sufficient evidence in total to support our findings, conclusions, and recommendations.