Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has announced the appointment of Marilyn Flynn, dean of the USC School of Social Work, to the newly created Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection, along with David Sanders, former head of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services who is now executive vice president of systems improvement for Casey Family Programs.
The commission comes on the heels of the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez in May amid revelations that the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and other agencies failed to intervene despite multiple abuse allegations made by family and teachers.
“It is my hope that with this commission we will begin to see true change in Los Angeles’ foster care system,” said Ridley-Thomas. “David Sanders and Marilyn Flynn will bring innovative and progressive ideas on how to reform the system. Their expertise is internationally recognized, and they will bring years of experience and knowledge. I am confident their contributions will greatly benefit not only the commission but ultimately Los Angeles County’s children and families and beyond.”
Over the next six months, the independent commission, which is composed of two appointees by each of the supervisors, will review the current issues and challenges faced by the Department of Children and Family Services and develop a corrective action plan that addresses the role of law enforcement agencies, schools, and other county and city agencies, and proposes reforms that better support at-risk children.
Since her arrival in 1997, Flynn has established the USC School of Social Work as one of the most innovative social work schools in the world. She has devoted particular attention to broadening the school’s portfolio of social sciences research aimed at solving pressing problems. During her tenure, Flynn has launched a military social work program focusing on the mental health needs of service members and their families; acquired and reinvigorated the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging; expanded the Hamovitch Center for Research in the Human Services, recruiting a nationally recognized faculty to conduct clinical and intervention studies in health, mental health, aging and child maltreatment; and created the Virtual Academic Center, which delivers a Web-based Master of Social Work program, a first from a major research institution in the profession.
Flynn, who received President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award in May for her commitment to the well-being of communities and community organizations, is eager to begin work on improving the child welfare system.
“It’s a moment of great opportunity,” said Flynn. “We have a new director, heightened public interest and a real commitment from all major groups for real change. This is an opportunity to think about how to bring best practices to the work force responsible for helping at-risk families and children.”