November 2011

A Critical Dependency Court Resource: Relative Placements

This issue of The Judges' Page addresses placement of foster children with relatives. Relative placements, when properly structured, enable courts to comply with the statutory requirement to craft a disposition that is the least restrictive alternative ~ J. Dean Lewis, editor


Editor's Message
J. Dean Lewis, Judge (retired), Former Member, National CASA Association Board of Trustees
Past President, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges 

Summary: Contributing authors to this issue examine relative placements from the viewpoint of the child's attorney, the CASA volunteer, the parents' attorney and the judge and provide information on locating relatives; bringing parents and extended family into the court process through family group decision making; and pursuing evidence-based reasonable efforts. Article...

Examining the Benefits and Challenges of Placing Children with Relatives
Hon. Leonard Edwards (ret.), Judge-in-Residence, Center for Families, Children and the Courts, California Administrative Office of the Courts

Summary: Judge Edwards outlines the many benefits of placing children who have been removed from the care of their parents with other relatives, and describes the challenges facing judges and others in making these placements. Article... 

Achieving Permanence for Children in Relative Foster Care: Relative Adoptions and Subsidized Guardianships
Bruce A. Boyer, Clinical Professor and Director, Civitas ChildLaw Clinic, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Summary: When supported with adequate financial and other forms of assistance, relative caregivers can do much to mitigate both the short- and long-term consequences of neglect and abuse. The author outlines new developments in and ongoing challenges to making relative placements. Article...

Fostering Connections to Success Act: Improving Family Engagement
Scott Trowbridge, JD, Staff Attorney, American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, Assistant Director for the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues

Summary: The author summarizes the provisions of the Fostering Connections to Success Act that encourage relative placement and provides links to information about the guide and other resources. Article...

Advice About Understanding the Child’s Perspective
Marvin Ventrell,
Executive Director, The Juvenile Law Society

Summary: The author describes the importance of family to a child and highlights the many benefits of placing children removed from the care of their parents with relative caregivers. Article...

Considering the Parent's Perspective: Balancing Challenges and Opportunities
Hilary Kushins, Drug Court and Training Programs Manager, Dependency Advocacy Center, Santa Clara County, California

Summary: The author offers a reality-based scenario to illustrate the challenges facing parents whose children are removed from their care and describes some of the benefits of relative placement. Article...

The Challenges Faced by Kinship Providers: Supporting Children’s Safety, Permanency and Well-Being Through Familial Caregivers
Hon. J. Robert Lowenbach, Colorado District Court Judge (retired)

Summary: The author describes the challenges faced by kinship providers and the tools judges can use to actualize the kinship preference. Article...

The Role of Court Appointed Special Advocates in Engaging Families
Vickie Scott Grove, Executive Director, Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, CA

Summary: The author shares the many benefits of having CASA volunteers form positive, constructive relationships with the relatives of the children they represent. Article...

A Neutral Playing Field for America’s Families?
Lisa Merkel-Holguin, Director, National Center on Family Group Decision Making, American Humane Association

Summary: The author offers the Super Bowl as a model for the level of fairness that should be aspired to when dealing with children in the foster care system. Article...

Our Responsibility to Change the Course of Events for Children Through Family Finding
Kelly Beck, Attorney, Seneca Center for Children and Families, CA

Summary: This article describes how all stakeholders—judicial officers, caseworkers, attorneys, CASA volunteer and others—can participate in family finding efforts. Article...

Fostering Connections—Family Finding Efforts: South Carolina GAL Program’s Experience
Louise Cooper, Director, South Carolina (Cass Elias McCarter) Guardian ad Litem Program

Summary: The author shares details of the South Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program’s successful partnership with the Department of Social Service to implement a grant-funded family finding program. Article...

Bridging the Gap Between Reality and Rhetoric: The Need to Reform Interstate Placement Practices to Expedite the Placement of Children with Relatives
Vivek Sankaran, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law, Child Advocacy Law Clinic; Director, Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, University of Michigan Law School

Summary: The author makes a case for meaningful reform of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children in order to remove barriers to relative placements. Article...

Giving Children Their Say in Court
Donald N. Duquette, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Child Advocacy Law Clinic, University of Michigan Law School

Summary: The author summarizes the reasons for allowing children to participate in court proceedings affecting them and outlines some best practices for this participation. Article...

How Do You Know It Works—and Are We Really Making Reasonable Efforts?
Hon. Cindy S. Lederman, Juvenile Court, 11th Judicial District Miami-Dade

Summary: The author makes the case for the necessity of using evidence-based practices in fulfilling the legal mandate to make reasonable efforts to reunify families. Article...

Web Resources: Relative Placement for Foster Children
Emily Krueger, Permanency Planning for Children Department, NCJFCJ

Summary: When a child cannot be returned to a safe home environment, relative placement or kinship care may be the best option. The following information provides guidance for judges and judicial stakeholders when working with potential relative placements for foster children. Article...

The comments of article authors do not necessarily reflect the policies of the National CASA Association or the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

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