Far fewer Los Angeles County children died because adults had neglected or abused them in 2014, it was reported Tuesday.

The number killed dropped from 61 in 2013 to 32 last year as county officials continued an overhaul of the safety net for children, including more training for social workers and an increased emphasis on safety, resulting in an increase in the number of children removed from their parents to be placed in foster care, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Officials cautioned that the tally might still inch up slightly as they await additional reports from the coroner, but it appeared likely that last year would have the fewest recorded abuse and neglect fatalities since 2008, when a state law required the county to begin releasing the statistics, according to the newspaper.

“I think it’s pretty clear evidence that we’re on track,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe told The Times. He said that years of wrenching stories of child abuse fatalities had led the county to transform and strengthen the Department of Children and Family Services and other county departments meant to support vulnerable children.

Since 2008, critics have hammered county supervisors for what they have characterized as a failure to adequately address repeated child fatality cases that followed egregious errors by social workers. In some instances, social workers disregarded clear signs of abuse and wrote in their notes that severely malnourished children appeared healthy, The Times reported.

Among the 32 who died last year, 21 had previously been reported to social workers as suspected abuse cases through the county’s child abuse hotline, according to data released in response a Times public records act request.

—City News Service

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