LOS ANGELES—An independent report says 13 recent child deaths might have been prevented if Los Angeles County social workers had taken basic steps to make sure youngsters weren't placed in unsafe homes.

The Los Angeles Times ( http://lat.ms/XapuGX) says an independent counsel for the Board of Supervisors examined 15 recent child deaths and a torture case.

The confidential report says casework errors began with the Department of Children and Family Services' first contact with the children and contributed to their deaths in all but two instances.

The county agency's problems, the report says, are largely based on incompetent social workers who fail to assess dangers to children.

It says supervisors are poorly qualified and they often disregard policy.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com