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Book A Culture of Fear: An Inside Look at Los Angeles County's Department of Children & Family Services


A Culture of Fear: An Inside Look at Los Angeles County's Department of Children & Family Services

3.3 (2001)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | A Culture of Fear: An Inside Look at Los Angeles County's Department of Children & Family Services.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Lmft Julian J. Dominguez(Author),M. a. Melinda Murphy(Author)

    Book details

A Culture of Fear takes readers inside the largest child protective services agency in the country, Los Angeles County's Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS). Julian J. Dominguez and Melinda Murphy, current and former DCFS employees, respectively, expose some of the most serious deficiencies of the agency. They detail systemic core issues that include a lack of integrity in DCFS court report writing, and describe how reunification of families is marginalized or set aside and eclipsed by other priorities, including personal opinions, departmental positions, personality conflicts, prejudices/biases, and "cover your ass at all costs." The authors shine a light on the struggles of social workers in this agency, where values can stray far, far, from the publicly proclaimed mission, which is supposed to protect children and reunify families. This book is very unique by all measures, and is meant to serve as a starting point, not a solution or finish line. It will hopefully evoke meaningful dialogue resulting in reform and needed change. About the Authors Julian J. Dominguez, LMFT, received his master's degree from Chapman University in marriage, family, and child counseling. He is a licensed MFT and his specialties include child welfare, sexual assault, vicarious trauma, and critical incident debriefing. He has worked for DCFS since 1996. As a family group decision-making practitioner, he facilitated over 1,500 family and emancipation conferences. Melinda Murphy, M.A., worked in child welfare for over twenty years. She is currently a social work investigator with a nonprofit agency in Los Angeles. She earned her master's at the University of Nevada, Reno, was a caseworker with Children of the Night, which helped get children in prostitution and pornography off the streets of Hollywood, and then worked with DCFS. Publisher's website:

3.5 (12857)
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Review Text

  • By Topanga Bird on May 5, 2014

    As a CSW for the same organization as these authors disparage, I can say this possibly is the most scurilous piece of personal opinion masquerading as fact that I have ever read. And, after spending 30 years as a "real" journalist," I can attest there isn't one "fact" in this entire missive. The main author, who attests his credentials as a "therapist," fails to acknowledge that everyone is human and "you meet you clients where they are." That applies to co-workers also. This is a pure work of personal opinion and should be viewed as such. And it should also be viewed as the experience of one person in a sea of 5,000+. Yes, there are failures in the field of Child Protective Service - and there also are victories. And, if you do your job, you have no need to concern yourself with "a culture of fear." And no, I'm not writing this to curry favor with my bosses - I'm on the short chute to retirement. I would just hate to think this author would get accolades for a piece of "personal fiction."

  • By Outspoken on May 7, 2014

    As a current CSW for LA County DCFS I can attest to all that was written in the book and so much more. I entered this field to do good and help families only to find that LA County DCFS is only out to harm. The book references that DCFS will do anything to build a case against a family and that includes lying on reports, omitting evidence or proof that a parent is following orders and making up things. I have personally gone to management over court reports missing information only to have my job threatened. When workers find that they are wrong they will go above and beyond to hide the truth and do whatever they can to make the parent look GUILTY. This book only cracks the surface of the problems within the system. This book should be required reading by the LA County Board of Supervisors, Phillip Browning current DCFS Director and anyone who in the training academy. Like the book references, there are some very good, ethical workers but that is far and in between. Think of this book exposure like the LA Police Rampart Division exposure. The bad has more power and will drown out the words of the good workers with internal promotions and the ability to target those who are considered trouble makers. Thank you writing this book.

  • By Fox Sloan on June 14, 2014

    Because of Mr. Dominguez & Ms.Murphy's courage and level of concern for children and their families, they should be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The issues addressed in their book are a national scandal that we as a society can not tolerate. They not only pin point serious practices that negatively impact families, they provide proven solution. I encourage everybody who has ever been victimized by this badly flawed system to 1. Buy & read the book and encourage others to do the same. 2. Form a coalition in your area to work with supervisors, legislators, grand jury, advocates and civil rights organizations to provide oversight and reform how cps is allowed to function. 3. Document and share your stories with both state and federal representatives and the media. Cps can continue to abuse its power and hurt children and families under the cover of darkness (called confidentiality) as long as "We The People" remain silent. "A Culture of Fear..." is the first bright light of truth exposing cps for who they really are and how they operate. Hardworking, caring, honest caseworkers need our help also. Julian & Melinda were two of those caseworkers who now provide us, on the outside, with a perspective of what they suffered through on the inside. Having walked the fires of cps hell for over a year, I can honestly say that without Julian & Melinda's book, I would not have survived the ordeal. They not only validated our family's story, page after page, they gave our family hope and direction on how to find our way out of that bureaucratic cesspool that is cps. This book provides needed understanding and options that are available to us all. Best of all the authors are available to help you, come hold workshops, and interface with cps in your area. I and others who have read this valuable book can give it only the highest recommendation, a MUST READ! Many Blessings to all...Fox Sloan

  • By June, MSW on March 14, 2014

    This is a mind-blowing, first person account of how DCSF has affected and damaged the llves of children and their families under their jurisdiction... The narrative is down to earth and personal, sympathizing in many ways with the role of the CSW.and the fear they face in their jobs . It highlights the difficulty of getting the true picture of the conflicting roles in the agency.It is too bad that the Commission members investigating DCFS didn't read this breathtaking book.

  • By Walter R. White on August 8, 2014

    The book presents a somewhat one-sided description of the department and its practices...but since my view is largely from that same side, I would agree with the view point articulated in the book.. I find it very accurate and it is also very similar to my experience as an A-CSW for nine years.

  • By Dannyo81 on July 3, 2015

    absplutely a horrifying book about the corruption and ruthless protocols of the department. A few extreme stories of those families and children whose lives were destroyed by Case workers (social workers) and the decision's from judges who are now obligated to keep this Billion dollar enteprise going.

  • By Roses on March 23, 2016

    Excellent book. Heartbreakingly true. Thank you for writing this book. It's a lifeline.

  • By elesse on February 19, 2016

    I meet him personally and this book is awesome.....I recommend it to everyone......

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