Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bill to open dependency courts

The San Jose newspaper reports:
A Democratic state legislator who vowed to better protect California's 58,000 foster children by opening up the secretive dependency courts governing their lives now faces opposition ... in recent years the number of states with open courts has grown to 19, buoying the hopes of many influential juvenile court judges that California would join the movement toward accountability.

The nationwide move away from secrecy in foster care is an effort to promote more accountability of the decisions made after children are removed from parents deemed abusive or neglectful. In California, the strict confidentiality of the dependency courts has allowed their dysfunction to remain hidden. A 2008 Mercury News investigation revealed deluged judges and court-appointed lawyers failing to meet even basic standards of adequate representation for children and parents, despite the high stakes. Dependency court rulings can permanently terminate parental rights and dictate whether children will move in with relatives or be consigned to a set of revolving foster homes and institutions.
Normally I might say that the problems of some kids are not the concerns of the general public. Except that there are some truly evil people in positions of authority with the juvenile courts and CPS, and public oversight is a necessity.

1 comment:

Paul said...

As a CPS worker, I totally agree that oversight is needed. However, that being said, the rights of children's privacy can be compromised by this new bill. The issue here isn't whether the public should know what occurs in dependency court, but how better can this system work, and with some semblance of accountability. The presiding Judge Michael Nash, has already stated he would like to see the courts be open, and if 19 states already have open dependency courts, the discussion needs to start occuring. I have not decided yes/no, but what I think we need is more discussion, and more research from the 19 states and how it affects the privacy of foster children.