The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges recently passed resolutions and policy statements on how to improve the lives of youth and families involved with juvenile or family courts. The resolutions address the needs of homeless youth and families, support a developmental approach to juvenile probation, and recognize the need for independent oversight of youth confinement facilities. The Council also released two bench cards: one with guidance on working with youth regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, and one on applying principles of adolescent development in delinquency proceedings. In addition, the Council released a guide of principles and practices addressing custody and visitation.

Published in Home Page

The US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families and Office for Civil Rights have compiled documents that provide guidance to ensure that child welfare agencies and state court systems are aware of their responsibilities to protect the civil rights of children and families in the child welfare system. The attached documents will address policy for Title VI, Disabilities, and Disproportionality issues.

Child welfare caseworkers can be an invaluable resource in helping communities respond to the human trafficking of children. Children involved with child welfare are at risk for being targeted by traffickers because of their potentially unstable living situations, physical distance from friends and family, traumatic experiences, and emotional vulnerability. Therefore, it is imperative that child welfare caseworkers be at the forefront of efforts to identify, respond to, and prevent human trafficking. This bulletin explores how caseworkers can identify and support children who have been victimized as well as children that are at greater risk for future victimization. It provides background information about the issue, strategies caseworkers can use to identify and support victims and potential victims, and tools and resources that can assist caseworkers.

READ THE FULL DOCUMENT

The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education (http://www.fostercareandeducation.org) would like to share important news regarding the issuance of final federal regulations by the U.S. Department of Education implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This link will guide you to the regulations released on November 28, 2016: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/essa/essaaccountstplans1129.pdf.

There are several key provisions in these regulations important to children in foster care, but the language addressing transportation is most timely given impending deadlines.  The regulations clarify the obligation of education and child welfare agencies to provide transportation during disputes over payment of any "additional costs" of transportation to maintain children's school stability.  Specifically, the regulations reinforce the responsibility of the State Education Agencies (SEAs) to:

  • Ensure that children in foster care promptly receive transportation, as necessary, to and from their schools of origin when in the children's best interest.
  • Ensure that LEAs that receive funding under Title I collaborate with child welfare agencies to develop and implement clear written transportation procedures that describe how school stability will be ensured in the event of a dispute over which agency or agencies will pay for any additional costs incurred.
  • Ensure that LEAs' local transportation procedures describe which agency or agencies will initially pay the additional costs so that transportation is provided to children in foster care during the pendency of any funding disputes.

These regulations send a clear message that providing transportation to achieve school stability for children in foster care is of paramount importance and that SEAs as well as LEAs, in collaboration with local child welfare agencies, have a clear duty to ensure that transportation is promptly provided.  Neither ESSA nor this regulation specifically allocate the responsibility to fund additional costs to either LEAs or local child welfare agencies.  Rather, this new regulation clarifies that state and local educational agencies have bottom line responsibility for developing and implementing procedures that guarantee school stability transportation for all children in foster care when disputes arise - and during the pendency of disputes - over which agency or agencies will fund any additional costs incurred.

These regulations go into effect January 30, 2017. However, it is important to remember that the provisions in ESSA relating to school stability, prompt school enrollment, and transportation to ensure school stability for children in foster care go into effect on December 10, 2016. State and local child welfare and education agencies must immediately begin or continue conversations about their shared responsibility to support the school stability and the success of students in foster care.  In order to ensure consistency across all districts within a state, the U.S. Department of Education has encouraged SEAs to issue uniform statewide guidance on how disputes should be resolved regarding which agency or agencies will fund transportation (including funding for transportation pending those disputes) and to establish a common dispute resolution process at the state level.

We look forward to continuing to support this work in your state, and encourage you to please contact us with questions or updates.

Kristin Kelly, Esq.

American Bar Association

Center on Children and the Law

1050 Connecticut Avenue NW, 4th Floor

Washington, DC 20036

(202) 662-1733

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This is the second of a series of articles that examines the role that advocates for parents and families can play in furthering the well-being and safety of children. This article highlights emerging parent representation models that expedite the safe reunification of children already in foster care. Written by Vivek S. Sankaran, Patricia L. Rideout and Martha L. Raimon.

"Effective child welfare leaders are not interested in adversarial relationships with parents or their attorneys. They are invested in accomplishing their mission: making sure children, youth and families get what they need so that every child can grow up in a
safe and stable family."    - Patricia L. Rideout, Former Administrator, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Division of Children and Family Services

Click to access the full article.

 

Published in Parents' Attorneys

Youth Advocate to Advocate for Youth:  The Next Transition 

 by Lacy Kendrick Burk and Johanna Bergan

Advocate for Youth. The steps are not defined by age or other demographic but instead by personal experience. The transition period will take varying lengths of time for each individual to complete. While this guide may be useful for those anywhere on this journey, it may be most applicable to those ages 15-30 and adults who support youth voice.

http://www.pathwaysrtc.pdx.edu/pdf/pb-Youth-Advocacy-Guide.pdf

Published in Children's Justice Act

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