Thursday, May 11, 2006

Changing Lives By Changing Systems

Last summer, the National Judicial Leadership Summit invited judges and child welfare administrations to develop state action plans to improve outcomes for children in foster care. Every state in the nation was represented.

State Action Plans focused on how to:
-Assert judicial leadership
-Increase accountability
-Foster collaboration between courts and agencies
-Provide a voice for parents and children

A National Call to Action
Plans developed from that summit have just been released by the National Center for State Courts.

Court delays are a key factor in prolonging children's time in foster care. These delays can be caused by:

-Insufficient information collection
-Postponement of hearings because not all parties are present
-Miscommunication between involved parties

National Curriculum
The "National Curriculum for Caseflow Management in Juvenile Delinquency Cases Involving Foster Care" was developed in 2005. Its goal was to improve the court system's ability to oversee court cases in order to shorten the time needed for children to find permanent placement.

One thing that was emphasized in this curriculum was that the better the collaboration and communication between state courts and child welfare agencies, the better the outcomes for foster children.

State Courts and Child Welfare Agencies
Both of these two groups act as "gatekeepers" for the foster care system. Both are responsible to protect children. Without mutual collaboration between them, both groups are hindered.

Real-life examples of this type of collaboration can be found in a document called "Improving Outcomes Together," which was released by the ABA Center on Children and the Law and Fostering Results.

To Learn More:
National call to action: http://www.ncsconline.org/
National curriculum: http://jeritt.mus.edu

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