A Culture of Fear: An Inside Look at Los Angeles County’s Department of Children & Family Services by Julian J. Dominguez, LMFT and Melinda Murphy, M.A.

978-1-62857-210-0-DominguezMurphyCoverAbout the Book

This book is very unique by all measures. It is meant to serve as a starting point to evoke meaningful dialogue resulting in reform and needed change inside the largest child protective services agency in the country, Los Angeles County’s Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS).

A Culture of Fear takes you inside the agency as it exposes some of the most serious deficiencies. Julian J. Dominguez and Melinda Murphy, current and former DCFS employees, respectively, detail systemic core issues that include a lack of integrity in DCFS court report writing. They also tell how reunification of families is marginalized or set aside while other personal or political priorities take precedence. Departmental positions, personality conflicts, prejudices, and “cover your ass at all costs” tend to rule.

The authors shine a light on the valiant struggles of social workers, and tell how values can stray far from the agency’s publicly proclaimed mission, which is to protect children and reunify families.

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About the Authors

Julian J. Dominguez, LMFTJulian 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.Melinda Murphy, M.A., worked in child welfare for over 20 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.