AP NEWS

State to audit LA child welfare agency after boy’s death

August 10, 2018

FILE - In this Friday, July 20, 2018, file photo Victor Avalos, the father of Anthony Avalos, second from left, carries his son's casket out of the Saint Junipero Serra Parish church in Lancaster, Calif., after the funeral service of his son. Following the death of a 10-year-old boy, state officials will audit Los Angeles County's child welfare agency to determine whether it adequately protects children. The California legislative audit committee on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2018, approved a request to review LA County's Department of Children and Family Services. Legislators noted that Anthony Avalos had been the subject of 13 calls to the department and that he may have come out as gay before his death. (Hans Gutknecht /The Orange County Register via AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Following the death of a 10-year-old boy, state officials will audit Los Angeles County’s child welfare agency to determine whether it adequately protects children.

The California legislative audit committee on Wednesday approved a request from Sens. Ricardo Lara and Scott Wilk and Assemblyman Tom Lackey to review LA County’s Department of Children and Family Services.

Legislators noted that Anthony Avalos had been the subject of 13 calls to the department and that he may have come out as gay before his death.

“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident,” legislators wrote in their letter to the audit committee, saying the welfare agency could have prevented the 2013 death of an 8-year-old boy who prosecutors said was tortured and abused because a couple believed he was gay.

The audit will specifically look into whether there are adequate protections in place for LGBTQ youth.

The legislators also requested that the auditor look into whether the safety and risk assessments the agency performed are timely and accurate, and whether the investigations are thorough and leading to appropriate results.

Child welfare officials didn’t immediately respond to a request on comment on Thursday.

Court documents said Anthony was tortured, starved, beaten, dropped on his head and slammed into furniture by his mother, her boyfriend, and that his siblings were forced to take part, before he died in June.

Anthony had been removed from his home for several months when some of the reports of abuse were investigated. He was returned after family members received in-home counselling, welfare officials said.

After Anthony’s death, authorities removed the eight other children —between 11 months and 12 years old — from the home. They are being cared for by county child welfare workers, officials said.

His mother and her boyfriend are charged with torture and murder. The have denied the allegations.

The previous review of county child welfare officials was conducted in 2012.

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