Child Protective Services Audit Request Approved After Boy's Death

The audit request comes two weeks after the beating death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy

A motion calling for an audit of Child Protective Services in three counties after the torture death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy and other recent child abuse cases was approved Wednesday by a legislative committee.

Assemblymen Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) presented their request at a Wednesday meeting of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. The lawmakers' motion received unanimous approval from the committee, which will forward details of the request to the state auditor's office.

A timeline regarding the audit was not immediately available.

The lawmakers initially planned to request audits at County Child Protective Services in Los Angeles, Orange and Sacramento counties, but the motion approved Wednesday does not specifiy counties. The auditor will decide which counties to review, possibly providing an example of an agency that is handling cases properly, a Gatto staff member said.

The audit request is in response to recent child abuse cases, including the death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy in May. The boy's mother and boyfriend were charged with capital murder in the death Gabriel Fernandez, who was found May 22 with broken bones at the couple's Palmdale apartment.

But long before the boy's death, child protective case workers were familiar with the couple and boy. Case workers responded to the home after repeated abuse reports, according to several people who knew the child, and confirmed by confidential documents obtained by a newspaper.

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services has declined to discuss specifics of the case, citing confidentiality laws.

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