Tuesday, December 16, 2008

San Jose has new CPS policies

The San Jose Mercury News continues to report on bad lawyering in the local juvenile dependency court:
Santa Clara County's dependency system handles about 2,500 cases a year.

In the vast majority, poor children have been removed following a social worker's determination of neglect due to parental drug use. In court, lawyers represent the children, their parents and social workers. Judges decide whether families should reunite following treatment and services. In recent years, the process has been harried and slapdash, and complaints abound that judges can't possibly make consistently good decisions to reunite families.

Now, new guidelines emphasize the court's expectations that children will return home as soon as safely possible, even in some cases where family reunification may have been earlier ruled out.
The paper is apparently referring to this statement:
Question #46: What is the court’s general philosophy with regard to dependency cases?

Answer #46: The dependency population consists largely of people with drug and alcohol problems. There are a disproportionate number of people of color in the dependency system, and almost all the families are poor. The court’s values are that every child should be at home, when it is safe. The court is an extremely collaborative court; stakeholders and community providers are encouraged to participate in activities that lead to the best outcomes for all children. Our preference is to heal families – we prefer family wellness, as opposed to separation.
Collaborative? It uses court-appointed prosecutors to bring lawsuits against poor folks with their own court-appointed lawyers. Your tax dollars are paying for all the lawyers, judges, CPS agents, and foster parents. I would like to believe that the new guidelines will improve things.

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