Sacramento County CPS chief Coulthard leaving troubled agency

Laura Coulthard, head of Sacramento County's embattled Child Protective Services, is leaving the agency, a county spokeswoman said Wednesday.

In June, the county said Coulthard was taking an extended leave from CPS, where she has served as deputy director since 2007 – a period in which the agency has undergone widespread criticism, followed by deep budget cuts.

Despite the cuts and complaints, child-welfare advocates praised Coulthard for trying to turn the agency around.

Agency spokeswoman Laura McCasland said she could not comment about the reasons behind Coulthard's departure. Coulthard did not return a message from The Bee.

Luis Villa has been serving as acting deputy director at CPS. The county will advertise for the opening.

A string of high-profile deaths in the child welfare system brought the agency under scrutiny, in part because of investigative stories by The Bee. Following The Bee stories, a county grand jury and a private consultant followed up with scathing reports about CPS, including questions about management.