Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Judge Takes A Proactive Approach to Foster Care

I recently emailed the Communications Director of the PEW Commission:

-I praised the DVD they created in order to outline their recommendations regarding foster care.

-I also suggested that it might help to show a diagram, or create a written, audio or video presentation of what it looks like when judges, attorneys, social workers, court appointed special advocates, foster parents and parents get together and discuss what placement might be in the best interest of the child.

Show Me, Don't Just Tell Me
It's hard to learn new things without a demonstration. Even more difficult to "unlearn" old patterns of behavior without a vision of what the new behavior should look like...

In the meantime, I've been searching newspaper databases to try to find some real-life examples. Here's what I've come up with so far...

Judicial Field Trip
Kudos to a California judge for his creativity, leadership and initiative when it comes to deciding cases involving foster care.

Superior Court Judge Philip Soto organized a "courtroom field trip" for a group of public defenders, district attorneys and private attorneys. He took them to Rosemary's Cottage, so that they could witness firsthand what the girls were experiencing.

Rosemary's Cottage provides residential foster care for girls between the ages of 13 and 17.

During the visit, the courtroom visitors and Rosemary staff shared concerns and challenges. The open dialogue permitted each group to ask questions of one another.

So often, the staff at Rosemary's Village communicate with the courts only through intermediaries. This creates a disconnect between the legal staff who are representing the children and the agencies entrusted with their care.

Soto explained his initiative in visting the center by saying, "Every state gets bogged down under its own administrative weight, and sometimes it takes a judge going out in the field and learning more about these programs."

He plans to arrange more field trips in the future.

Ruiz, Kenneth Todd. Taking court to foster care. Pasadena Star - News. Pasadena, Calif.: May 3, 2006.

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