Family Is A Compelling Reason

April 7, 2020

Opinion column in the Chronicle of Social Change by Jerry Milner and David Kelly of the Children’s Bureau

We have to commit to doing all within our power to protect parent-child relationships during separations, and to continue to work as diligently as we possibly can to achieve reunification for those families who are not yet together.

We cannot hit pause. We cannot allow a hiatus.

Read the full column here.

A Joint Statement on Child Welfare Courts During a Public Health Crisis

March 31

Issued by Children’s Advocacy Institute, Children’s Rights, Juvenile Law Center, National Association of Counsel for Children, National Center for Youth Law, Youth Law Center,

This letter titled, “Access to Justice and Advocacy are Critical Anchors During Uncertain Times,” offers recommendations on assessing and safeguarding the needs and rights of every young person and family member experiencing dependency court involvement.

Letter here.

Foster kids who can’t visit parents are struggling under coronavirus isolation, advocates

NBC News

April 2, 2020

For parents working through the process of being reunited with their children in foster care, it’s not just about not seeing their children in person. Many family courts are limiting their work to emergency removals of children and not hearing reunification cases,as in the state of New York, which can be devastating to parents, advocates say.

Article here.

Children’s Bureau Letter to Child Welfare Legal and Judicial Leaders

March 27, 2020 The Children’s Bureau (CB) addresses questions and concerns regarding a number of child welfare issues in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, including whether the Children’s Bureau can waive statutorily required judicial proceedings. In this letter, the Children’s Bureau urges attorneys, courts, Court Improvement Programs, and administrative offices of the courts to work together to ensure that requisite judicial proceedings continue during the COVID-19 pandemic. It states that the Children’s Bureau expects that courts and states will work together to determine how best to balance child-safety related statutory requirements against public-health mandates. As situations require, courts can and should use flexible means of convening required hearings.

Letter here

Kids in foster care? Coronavirus prompts courts to halt family visits, dealing harsh blow

March 31, 2020

USA Today

Biological parents battling to regain custody of children in foster care could lose crucial bonding time and see reunification stymied as dependency courts nationwide cancel hearings and suspend face-to-face family visits over coronavirus concerns. …

The visitation suspensions — issued in counties across Texas, Florida, Nebraska and Maine, among others — are temporary. Some courts stipulate that in-person visits may continue if all parties agree to proceed.

Link here.

Child Welfare Limbo: Covid-19 Puts Family Reunifications On ‘Indefinite’ Hold

March 30, 2020

The Center for New York City Affairs at the New School

In response to the spreading coronavirus, the City’s Family Courts have closed their buildings and dramatically reduced their caseloads. Judges are now holding hearings by phone and video, only on “essential/emergency” matters, according to a statement from the New York State Office of Court Administration, which did not respond to request for further comment for this story.

Link here.

COVID-19 Creates Deep Uncertainty in NYC’s Child-Welfare System

March 30, 2020


“New York City’s family courts went virtual last week but they are operating in triage mode with currently only one virtual court and a very limited number of judges. All but a tiny fraction of hearings have been officially adjourned for at least three months, but advocates for children and parents say that with an ever-growing backlog of cases, they’re concerned that the wait might be far longer, and that delays might keep families from reunifying not just for months but for years.”

Read here

What Comes Next for Child Welfare? Two Experts Weigh In

March 30, 2020

The Chronicle of Social Change

At some point, the world and the nation will get past the initial, horrific onset of the coronavirus pandemic. In its wake will almost certainly be a recession, corresponding unemployment and hard times for millions of American families. As our coverage has reflected in the past two weeks, child welfare systems are still grappling with what to do now – how to facilitate justice through the courts, ensure some form of visits for families, how to deliver services that rely on the value of human contact through a phone.

But like the rest of the country, systems will re-emerge into a tough situation. And while leaders on the front line are still working on how to adapt to the current norms, it’s time to think about what comes next. Today we present two insightful pieces from experts in the field…

Read here.