Originally posted at The Chronicle of Social Change.
By Christie Renick.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted this week to create a philanthropy liaison within the recently formed Office of Child Protection called the Center for Strategic Public-Private Partnerships.

The recommendation to create the center came from a group of philanthropists–the Foster Care Funders Collaborative–led by Southern California Grantmakers (SCG), a regional association representing over 200 grantmakers.

According to the motion, the center should “facilitate ongoing cooperation and partnership between philanthropy and county agencies engaged with children and families.”

In an interview with The Chronicle last June regarding the motion that directed the Office of Child Protection to investigate costs and timelines for the liaison, L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said she envisioned the philanthropy liaison securing funds that would be used largely to address difficult problems such as how to protect children from abuse, assist children who have experienced trauma in foster care and get more adults to become foster parents.

“We believe it will be a game-changer and lead to a more effective and collaborative relationship between government and philanthropy as we work together toward a better future for our children,” said Chris Essel, SCG’s president and CEO, in a press release.

Twelve philanthropic groups have already endorsed the center, according to a press release from Solis’ office: The Ahmanson Foundation; Annenberg Foundation; Anthony & Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation/Pritzker Foster Care Initiative; Blue Shield of California Foundation; California Community Foundation; The California Endowment; David Bohnett Foundation; Hilton Foundation; The James Irvine Foundation; The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation; UniHealth Foundation; and Weingart Foundation.

“Improving our child welfare system requires the kind of innovative solutions that result from cross-sector collaboration. This is a very important example of government and philanthropy working together on behalf of our children and families,” said Fred Ali, president and CEO of the Weingart Foundation, in a press release.

Today’s motion, put forth by L.A. County Supervisors Solis and Sheila Kuehl, specified that the center should be staffed by three full-time employees: a director, associate director, and an administrative assistant. According to a report released in September from the interim CEO’s office, total staffing costs are estimated to fall between $240,000 and $330,000 annually.

The center is proposed as a pilot project that will be funded equally by philanthropy and the county for three years. After three years, the center’s effectiveness will be assessed with assistance from Southern California Grantmakers. At that point, the county will determine whether to make the center permanent, and will assume full fiscal responsibility for its operations.

The county CEO’s office along with the Office of Child Protection were ordered to report back to the board in 90 days on the progress of operationalizing the new center.