Meet the New Head of L.A.’s Department of Children and Family Services

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has chosen a new boss for its beleaguered Department of Children and Family Services. In a 3 to 2 vote Tuesday, they selected Bobby Cagle, the DCFS Director of Georgia’s Department of Human Services, for the job. He narrowly beat out Children's Bureau Associate Commissioner JooYeun Chang. Cagle’s contract must still be finalized and approved by the board.  

On paper, Cagle appears to be a perfect fit. He took over Georgia’s child protection unit following the death of a five-year-old girl whose family had had multiple run-ins with Georgia social workers. L.A.’s DCFS is still suffering fallout from an almost identical case: the 2013 murder of eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez.

Upon taking over Georgia’s DCFS, Cagle immediately implemented a series of reforms aimed at preventing a similar tragedy in the future. These included a comprehensive five-year plan and a hiring spree to reduce caseloads for social workers.

“When Cagle took over the program in 2014, you would be hard-pressed to find a state agency with a worse reputation,” according to Atlanta, Georgia TV station WXIA-TV.  “Since launching his blueprint for success, Cagle has visited every part of the state to speak with caseworkers and other partners on the front lines.”

One fair criticism of Cagle: he’s leaving early. That has some in Georgia upset.

Cagle appears to enjoy a challenge. That will certainly come in handy in L.A. In addition to the scrutiny that emerged after Fernandez’s death, the department is suffering from a crippling shortage of foster families and a history of financial mismanagement.

Good luck to you, Mr. Cagle.