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Fenty Accepts Bobo's Resignation From CFSA

Sharlynn E. Bobo, the director of D.C. Child and Family Services, resigned today, in the wake of a massive backlog of cases during which a 6-month-old boy and a 5-month-old boy died.

"I accepted Dr. Bobo's resignation today and would like to personally thank her for her dedication to public service and for working to turn our troubled child welfare agency around," Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said in a release late tonight. "The protection of the District's children is paramount and we will continue the work started by Dr. Bobo."

But Bobo and CFSA had many questions to answer.

Isiah had not been seen by a social worker though the agency had received a call alleging he was being neglected. The second boy, whose identity has not be disclosed, had been seen by a social worker. Bobo praised the worker for having done everything right in that case. The boy may have died when his teenage mother may have rolled over on him while the two were sleeping. Neither boy's cause of death has been released.

It is no surprise that Bobo resigned and that the mayor accepted her decision. He has wasted no time firing workers involved in the agency's missteps, including the social worker handling Isiah's case.

Fenty also fired six social workers after the badly decomposing bodies of four sisters were found in their Southeast home In January. Their mother, Banita Jacks, believed to be mentally ill, has been charged with their murders. CFSA had closed the case on the girls despite a school social worker's pleas that she feared the girls were being held hostage by their mother.

Fenty, known for his many press conferences, handled Bobo's departure quietly, announcing it in a news released after 9 p.m.

Bobo testified at a D.C. Council hearing on Monday. Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) called for the hearing after learning of Isiah's June 25 death. Wells also wanted to discuss how the agency was handling its backlog. Later on Monday, CFSA released the news of the second boy's death.

Bobo said all the controversy and attention had distracted the CFSA from its work.

"It has a been a pleasure to serve the residents of the District of Columbia and an honor to work with so many talented and dedicated social workers and employees at CFSA," Bobo said in the statment released by the Fenty administration. "It is my sincere hope that the reforms and improvements we worked on together will continue."

Dr. Roque Gerald will take over as the agency's interim director. Gerald has served as a CFSA deputy director.

By Marcia Davis  |  July 16, 2008; 11:19 PM ET
Categories:  Mayor Fenty  
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I thought this might happen, but I really thought she'd resign earlier, in the wake of the Banita Jacks incident.

I wonder - if she had resigned last February, would there have been a replacement who would have reformed the system just enough to prevent these two boys from dying?

Posted by: Bonnie | July 17, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I believe that major reform is needed to fix CFSA and perhaps with new leadership that will happen more swiftly. I have concerns with Mayor Fenty firing social workers so easily. It does not help the image of the child welfare system nor social work as a profession. The well-being of every child is the responsibility of the entire community.

Posted by: E.C.F. | July 17, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I feel like everyone has an opinion about the DC Child Welfare System without having the full story. Those the responsibility fall soley on one woman to address an already broken system. The system is not just broken in Washington DC, but accross the nation. She had a short-term as the Director and everyone expected miracles. I am not dismissing the fact that children died, but what about the responsibility of ensuring that the agency had the support it needed to address the influx of calls and the lack of man power. Dr. Bobo did her job. Was she suppose to create miracles overnight. Was she responsible for a system that is already broken? Pay social workers more money and benefits for being a social worker. Allow professionals in the human service field to provide help and assistance. Creditials are not always everything. I think the will to do the job and the passion along with trying does it. Lets start working with these families in the homes. All Children do not need to be pulled from thier homes and sometimes who have to give people the benefit of a doubt.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Bobo was also a social work professor at the same time she was director...I admire multi-tasking, but in this case, maybe her educational responsibilities took away some of her focus from CFSA. A job like that takes up a LOT of time. Just being a social worker in general takes up a lot of time - to do it well, you have to look at it as more than an 8-hour day.

I just think that she may have overscheduled herself - like many of her employees, she may have had too much on her plate. On that note - CFSA has too many kids in the system for the number of social workers currently employed. Whoever takes over now has to aggresively advocate for more money for more workers. I didn't see Bobo doing that...but then again, I was never behind closed doors with her and the powers that be. If she was pushing for the ability to hire more social workers, it sure wasn't in any of the papers.

At some point, something has to give. I hope she can continue to succeed in the educational sector, now that she clearly has more time to devote to her students.

Posted by: Bonnie | July 18, 2008 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't Bobo Mr. Burns teddy bear?

Posted by: DC Old Timer | July 18, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

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