SEIU 721 members demand immediate action on safety issues at LA County DCFS

Safety concerns for the members of our union are of paramount importance to us at SEIU 721. This is especially true when it comes to those of us working at the LA County Department of Children and Family Services – where not one but two of our fellow Social Workers have been very seriously assaulted in the past few weeks.

We asked all of you to share your thoughts with our union on how safety can be improved in DCFS worksites and work spaces. We truly appreciate each and every one of you who took the time to give us your feedback for our Field Survey.

Recently, we at SEIU 721 shared the outcome of that Field Survey with DCFS management – and we demanded immediate action on our 7-Point Health and Safety Plan, which is as follows.


#1 – Ensure there is 3:1 staffing at hotels and 2:1 when responding to and transporting high-risk referrals/cases.

#2 – Have security guards comprised of Sheriff’s Deputies/other law enforcement officers at hotels where high-risk youth are housed to ensure the safety of staff and other youth.

#3 – Use the Child Fatality and Near Fatality section model to review safety incidents, to provide lessons learned, and to inform policy and practice. Create protocols and safety plans for hotel supervision/high-risk field safety, including documentation of any history of assault or behavior issues to all staff working the hotels.

#4 – Train staff with de-escalation techniques to use if necessary.

#5 – Organize a roundtable meeting with agencies including the Court, the Department of Mental Health (DMH), the Probation Department, STRTPs, and law enforcement. Create a triage planfor youth that not only includes DCFS but other departments like Probation and DMH.

#6 – Use the Proclamation of a Local Emergency for Homelessness in the County of Los Angeles to address youth in hotels and fund the following:

  • Fill all CSW, SCSW, and HSA vacancies in Command Post and Regional Offices in order to implement a buddy system when supervising and transporting youth in hotels or when responding to referrals/cases with increased safety risks.
  • Provide DCFS with funding to increase resources/tools needed to work with dual supervision youth.
  • Use funding to increase recruitment of specialized foster homes for youth to end hotel use.
  • Contract with shelters for set aside beds to be used by DCFS youth instead of hotels.
  • Create additional TSCFs with “No denial” beds to meet the needs of the department.

#7 – Hold ongoing meetings with Labor to review situations.


Respectfully, vague promises won’t be enough on this issue. We heard from our members – we crafted an action plan with plenty of specifics – and now, we insist that the department move quickly to implement it.

Safety on the job is a big priority. We want results and we will get them.

Stay tuned for updates on our progress as we continue to hold the department accountable on this vital matter. And please note: We will be scheduling union meetings at DCFS offices to present this plan to, and get more feedback from, all of you. Be on the lookout for more info from us on that front, too – and, in the meantime, let’s continue to look out for one another.

Categories: Los Angeles County
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#2 Should definitely NOT be a thing. We live in a world where police work with immunity and kill minorities without any consequences. #2 Will definitely get some of our youth killed by police officers and will do more harm than good. SEIU is hardly ever wrong, but this was obviously included by someone unaware of the real world we social workers live in.

Adande Fletcher

Carlos, you are totally correct; it would present more harm than good. Though not mentioned, I believe that allowing CSWs to use pepper spray may or may not be a good idea due to pent up fear that some CSWs may have against minorities. Two or more CSWs visiting the minors is a good idea! Learning how to deescalate a situation is a superb idea, and learning to correctly approach minors in a humanistic, non threatening way is another great idea. I’m not saying the approach was wrong because I wasn’t present. But I will say that #2 is totally… Read more »

Priscilla Perez

Firstly, would hope there would be separate housing accommodations for female youths and male youths. Meaning different hotels. Secondly, there should be female social workers observing the female youths; male social workers observing the male youths.


Thank you


This is crazy. When I went to the union for assistance regarding safety and being in danger regarding unsafe and high risk clients, but I was ignored. I paid my dues and the union didn’t even help me. It’s so sad it had to come to this. I hope my fellow social worker is doing better and gets the assistance they need from the Department.

Lisa Storey

I agree with the 7-points provided and would feel safer if they were implemented. Also, de-escalation trainings have long been asked for by CSW’s, as we often feel over powered by clients who are mentally unstable and have threatened harm.

Magdalena Elorriaga

I totally agree and this is so LATE in coming