David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
Date: Sept. 19, 2005
Leaders of New York Court and Child Welfare Agencies to Participate in Collaborative National Meeting to Reform Foster Care System
September 20 – 23, 2005
NEW YORK - Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and other New York judicial leaders and child welfare agency representatives will participate in an unprecedented national effort to better protect abused and neglected children who are in the court system, joining their colleagues from every state across the nation, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories at “Changing Lives By Changing Systems: A National Judicial Leadership Summit on the Protection of Children,” September 20 to 23 in Bloomington, Minnesota. Over 40 judges from the states’ highest courts are attending the four-day conference.
The key concept underlying the summit is collaboration between courts and family service agencies. The conference will serve as the springboard for reform in the way abused and neglected children’s cases proceed through the courts, with the goal of reducing delays in securing safe, permanent homes for children in foster care. Each state will develop an individual action plan to improve its child protection procedures and programs. Following the summit, these action plans will be compiled into a National Call to Action for state courts, forming the basis for a collaborative reform plan between the courts and child welfare agencies at state and local levels.
“Reforming the foster care system has been one of the New York state court system’s highest priorities,” said Chief Judge Kaye. “I have been gratified with the real progress we have achieved in recent years working collaboratively with our partners in promoting child welfare. But there is still much work ahead for us, which makes this conference especially timely and welcome. I am thrilled to engage in this first-ever national conversation on foster care systems and intend to learn from other states’ successes, as well as share our own. What we take away from the conference will undoubtedly spawn future reforms in New York and throughout the country. The impact of this conference will be felt upon the lives of countless foster care children for years to come.”
In addition to Chief Judge Kaye, the New York delegation includes John A. Johnson, Commissioner for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services; John Mattingly, Commissioner for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services; Hon. Joseph M. Lauria, Administrative Judge for the New York City Family Court; Hon. Sharon S. Townsend, Administrative Judge for the Eighth Judicial District of New York; Sheryl Dicker, Executive Director for the New York State Commission on Children; and Jan Fink, Deputy Counsel for the New York State Office of Court Administration.
In May 2004, the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care issued recommendations that called for improving court oversight of foster care cases to reduce delays in placing children safely and permanently in homes. These recommendations, endorsed by the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA), will serve as the summit’s central themes.
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC), CCJ, COSCA, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges are sponsoring the summit. Minnesota Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz is co-chairing the event along with Vermont State Court Administrator Lee Suskin. “This nation’s abused and neglected children deserve better results from the system designed to protect them,” said Chief Justice Blatz. “By bringing the leadership of courts and child and family services to the table, we have a unique opportunity to make meaningful improvements for kids in each and every state.”
The summit is made possible by a $400,000 grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to the NCSC, which has conducted extensive research on family courts and child protection. Additional support for this project is being provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Fostering Results, and the State Justice Institute.
The Pew Charitable Trusts serves the public interest by providing information, advancing policy solutions and supporting civic life. Based in Philadelphia, with an office in Washington, D.C., the Trusts will invest $204 million in fiscal year 2006 to provide organizations and citizens with fact-based research and practical solutions for challenging issues. More information about the Trusts can be found at www.pewtrusts.org.
The National Center for State Courts, founded in 1971 by United States Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice and provides leadership, research, technology, education, and training to the state courts. NCSC also is taking the lead on several key issues facing the justice system. For example, the National Center is working to improve citizens’ participation in the jury system, reform the judicial selection process, and develop a model policy on public access to court records. NCSC is headquartered in Williamsburg, VA., with offices in Arlington, VA, and Denver.