This week, Bobby Cagle hits the ground running as LA County’s new Director of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
He comes to LA from his role as Director of Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services with more than 27 years of experience in child protection, foster care, adoption, and early childhood education. In Georgia, he stabilized and supported the Division of Family and Children Services workforce, promoted robust community engagement, expanded the use of kinship care, and empowered an authentic voice of system-involved youth. He began his professional life as a social worker and was adopted from a North Carolina orphanage as an infant.
“In a relatively short amount of time, Bobby was able to reverse caseworker turnover trends, and decrease average caseloads by earning the support of state leaders to add positions, increase salaries, and modernize practice approaches and technological processes,” said Melissa Carter, Executive Director of Emory University’s Barton Child Law and Policy Center, who worked closely with Cagle during his tenure in Georgia. “He also showed the courage of his convictions by directly confronting the public’s poor perception of the child welfare agency and, as a result, leaves Georgia’s child welfare system stronger.”
LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the incoming Chair of the Board of Supervisors, said, “In Georgia, Bobby Cagle instituted reforms that strengthened outcomes for children and their families, while also providing strong support for case workers. He brings leadership and vision to the job of building on improvements made by the Department over the last five years. During those five years, the department decreased social worker caseloads from an average of 27 to 20, the rate of entry into foster care decreased by 4.7 percent, and recurrence of abuse declined by 8.7 percent. LA is moving in the right direction and I am confident that Bobby Cagle will continue to make the changes needed so that every child in the County receives the care he or she needs.”
LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the outgoing Chair of the Board of Supervisors added, “The Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection, convened by the Board of Supervisors in 2013, issued a number of excellent recommendations to decrease the incidence of child maltreatment and strengthen DCFS’s ability to serve the County’s most vulnerable children and families. It is my hope that Mr. Cagle will use these recommendations to guide him through the formidable road ahead in order to be the innovative, collaborative, and reform-minded leader that the Department truly needs.”
Cagle was sworn into his new role on November 29, and his first day on the job is December 1. After his swearing in, Cagle said, “The Board of Supervisors has entrusted me with the care of the County’s most vulnerable children and families. I know, having been a social worker myself, that it is only by supporting social workers with the resources they need that those families and children can be given the stability and love they need. I will be building on significant improvements made in recent years, but we still have a lot of work to do. I have no doubt that we can help stabilize families, protect children, and build the systems that will help them flourish at a critical time in their lives.”
During his first week on the job, Cagle will be meeting with his new team and Board office staff, speaking with the State Director of Social Services, giving holiday toys to foster children at Magic Mountain, meeting representatives from labor, and introducing himself to commissioners, philanthropic partners and other stakeholders.