D.C. Child Welfare Head Resigns After Second Death in a Month

Sharlynn E. Bobo, the embattled director of the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA), resigned late Wednesday night (July 17), a day after the agency publicly declared that it had done nothing wrong in the death Monday of a five-month-old boy who was under its supervision.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty announced the resignation in a news release that was posted on his website.  The release quoted Bobo as saying that questions about the agency’s leadership were distracting from its work.

Fenty immediately named CFSA deputy director Roque Gerald as Bobo’s interim replacement. Gerald heads CFSA’s Office of Clinical Practice, which provides in-house clinicians to serve CFSA clients.

By Thursday, Bobo’s biography had been removed from the agency’s website, as had the summary of the executive staff. Also removed was the press release detailing the agency’s contacts with the five-month-old and his family.

While child welfare directors lose their positions for lots of reasons, the death of a child is among the most common factors. (See “Child Welfare’s Death Penalty,” June 2006.)

The five-month-old was the second child involved with the agency to die in the past three weeks.  A six-month-old died June 25. A cause of death has not been determined for either, but suffocation is suspected in both cases.

The resignation of Bobo, who was appointed head of CFSA in June 2007, came as a surprise to local officials.  She had weathered a firestorm of criticism after the decomposed bodies of four sisters were found in a District apartment in January.

“I think that it’s critical that we assure that we have leadership at the agency to handle the backlog of cases and to better serve the children and families of the city,” D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D), who oversees the agency as chairman of the council’s Committee on Human Services, told The Washington Post.

“I think our challenge is greater now that she’s leaving, because I don’t think the agency has a very deep bench,” Wells said. “We will need to bring in outside support quickly.”

Fenty fired six social workers after the deaths of the four girls and another social worker was fired after the June 25 death. That social worker, whose caseload had ballooned from four to more than 50 cases, had never visited the child.

In the most recent death, the social worker had met with the child’s mother at least twice, warning her about sleeping with the baby at her side. Authorities believe the 15-year-old mother rolled over on the baby, suffocating him. There was no indication of any contact with the family since early June.

The five-month-old died on the same day that a D.C. Council hearing was held to investigate the backlog of 2,000 cases built up since the deaths of the four sisters in January.


Youth Today is the only independent, internationally distributed digital media publication that is read by thousands of professionals in the youth service field.

Youth Today adheres to high-quality journalistic standards, providing readers with professional news coverage dedicated to examining a wide spectrum of complex issues in the youth services industry from legislation to community-based youth work.


Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue.


We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. Donors may be quoted, mentioned or featured in our stories. Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors. Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions…(read more)

Recent Comments




Kennesaw State University Mountain Logo & Ceneter for Sustainable Journalism Logo
LOGO Institute for Nonprofit News 3 turquoise boxes stacked in "J" shape

Copyright © 2018 Youth Today and MVP Themes --- Published by Center for Sustainable Journalism,
Kennesaw State University, 1200 Chastain Blvd. Suite 310, Kennesaw GA 30144

To Top