National Funders, Including Casey Family Programs, Support Antelope Valley, CA After String of Child Welfare Incidents
Los Angeles County’s Antelope Valley — the remote area that has seen several of the county’s worst child welfare tragedies over the past six years — is at the center of a new philanthropic effort to prevent child maltreatment and help support vulnerable children and families.
The Antelope Valley Resource Infusion (AVRI) is a working group of public agencies, nonprofit organizations and funders — including the Ballmer Group, the Reissa Foundation and Casey Family Programs. The group aims to improve the area’s child welfare system by building collaboration among public and private child welfare agencies that work in the area by utilizing a “collective impact” strategy that will structure opportunities for working together.
The Ballmer Group and the Reissa Foundation have each contributed $50,000 to the organizing effort, and Casey Family Programs paid for some participants to travel to a collective impact conference last month. According to participants like Roxana Martinez of First 5 L.A., the goal of the AVRI project is to create or develop a backbone organization in the region that could operate like an air-traffic controller, linking social workers to resources and better supporting an often-isolated community still reeling from the deaths of three young boys.
“We all want to protect kids and we want to ensure that they all have this incredible future ahead of them,” said Martinez, who has lived in the Antelope Valley for more than two decades. “But what is shaping the work is the desire to change the conditions that lead to these tragic events. We want to make sure that we’re rooted, not in the darkness of what happened, but in the light of what is possible.”
At a meeting of the Los Angeles County Children’s Commission on Monday, Supervisor Kathryn Barger described the collaborative effort as a “silver lining” after another child death in the Antelope Valley earlier this year. In July, 4-year-old Palmdale boy Noah Cuatro died from injuries allegedly caused by his parents, who have been arrested and charged with his murder. This is the third time since 2013 that a child with a previous history with the county’s Department of Children and Family Services has been allegedly killed by his parents and caregivers in the high-desert region...