Monday, April 24, 2006

Judicial Leadership About Foster Care

When it comes to foster care, the court is making Solomon-like decisions about complicated cases. The decisions that are being made involve more than a sum of money or a span of years, but the potential outcome of a child's life.

There are (over) half a million children in foster care. That's half a million human beings who might be short-circuited in living up to their full potential at the very beginning of their lives. Future lawyers, doctors, teachers, nurses....

The PEW Commission is asking judges to take a leadership role.

1.) Judges have the opportunity to positively change judicial culture. As mentioned in a previous post, when it comes to the safety and security of a child, a traditional "adversarial" approach is out of place.

Instead of a confrontation between adversaries, there should be a focus on problem-solving, mediation and dispute resolution. Rather than a "zero-sum game," this should be viewed as a "round table."

2.) Judges should be educated to understand the issues in foster care. Recently, the judicial education budget was cut in half. When judges lack insight into the intricacies of the foster care system, who pays the price? You guessed it: foster children.

3.) Judges act as gatekeepers in the judicial system. They move things along. Judges who are educated and experienced in the realm of foster care will encourage collaboration and monitor the case carefully. Collaboration is an essential element in moving a child toward permanency.

The PEW Commision recommends that dependency court judges opt out of routine rotation.

Specialized judges would be an asset when it comes to foster care. An individual foster child will stand a better chance of wise decisions with a judge who is experienced and educated, who wants to be there and who is committed to finding a safe, permanent home.

I hope that there are judges out there who listen to the PEW Commission. Deep down, don't we all want to change the world? To make a positive difference? I (optimistically) believe that it is lack of knowledge, rather than lack of care, that leads to a lot of faulty decisions on the court's part.

Next blog entry, I plan to focus on CASA, and their role as a voice for children in foster care.

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Comments:
Hello Lisa,
Thanks for the shout out to me at my blog and for bringing your blog to my attention.

I think there has to be a lot more money spent for all children's well being. This will greatly reduce any need that there actually is for foster care. Also I think working in CPS tends to bring out the worst in some people and generally they are free to do their thing, especially if they've made it to supervisor. The whole culture of the sytem stinks. Imagine putting a kid in a place that will harm him becuase you have to leave the office early!
 
Hey, fat old Jewish guy-
wow, you have a lot of blogs.

Lisa-
Great research as always. Never heard of the efforts you mentioned, but I plan to check them out. Good luck in everything.

Btw, I was meaning to ask you. Have you ever been reunited with your biological parent(s), or do you maintain relationship with them?
 
I am going to keep shouting out to (sir, you have GOT to give me a name to call you by... I can't call you "fat old Jewish guy" -- it feels wrong!)

And Danielle, here's the story about my biological family:

1.) My mom died of cancer when I was 10 years old.

2.) My father remarried within a year and his new wife didn't like the ready-made family.

3.) I actually went to visit my dad as an adult, but he then rejected me again. (ouch)

All you can do is try, right?

My choice is to focus on loving the people within my sphere of influence:

-my husband
-my stepkids
-my friends

What I've learned over the years is that:

-Forgiveness takes one person
-Reconciliation takes two people

I can only be responsible for my own choices.

Ask me questions anytime!
 
Lisa, thanks for visiting and posting on my blog. I'm sad to say that the judge ruled against the Borelly family.

I just hope that this case brings to light a serious problem in the foster care system and that the powers that be are able to fix it.

You are an amazing woman - keep up the good work! I hope you don't mind if I add you to my bloglines.
 
I'm a little pushed for time now but I'll be back to read further.

Beth recommended you and I understand why. I'm a great-grandmother raising three tween and teen great-grandaughters who are technically wards of the court.

In our case, there was family to step in and the system worked. So often it doesn't.

Thanks for what you're doing so well.

Ann
 
Ann, thank you for what you are doing so well... caring for your grandchildren!

In my "day job," I'm also a youth services librarian, so if your tween / teens ever need something to read, I can recommend something.

Also, my two stepchildren are 13 and 15, so I have some first-hand experience with parenting as well.
 
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