Larry M. Leaman
After 21 years, Larry Leaman recently retired as the Director of Orange County's Social Services Agency, a position which made him responsible for the operation of a county agency of 3700 employees who provide an array of social services, including child protection, child welfare, and child abuse prevention. When the federal government first made family preservation and support funding available to the states a decade ago, and California, in turn, made that funding available to the 58 California counties, Mr. Leaman developed a strategy of putting these funds to work by developing the capacity of the community to support families and, in so doing, to prevent child abuse and neglect. Under his direction, a plan to develop a community collaborative was developed, approved, and implemented, launching the prevention agenda. The concept of collaboratives blossomed into the development of 19 Family Resource Centers located in high risk neighborhoods of this high density urban county of three million residents. When the California voters approved a tax on tobacco products in order to fund services to children up to age five, and their families, the Family Resource Centers in Orange County were quickly identified as the platform from which to launch additional prevention-focused services. The recognition, commitment and momentum to prevent child abuse and neglect, and in doing so make our communities healthier and safer for all, is strong in Orange County thanks largely to Larry Leaman. Extending the scope of his vision to the state level, Mr. Leaman accepted an appointment from the Director of the California Department of Social Services, on behalf of the Governor, to serve on the Stakeholders Group to help implement a statutory mandate to review and make recommendations for redesigning California's child welfare services system. Mr. Leaman has been a strong supporter of the Stakeholders efforts to ensure that child abuse prevention and family support services are incorporated as fundamental elements in the planning for California's redesigned system. Clearly, Larry Leaman's positive impact on Orange County extends throughout California.