Foster Care Reform Update: September-October 2010

September - October 2010

In this Issue:

Resource: County Liaisons   California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care
Subscribe to the California Dependency Online Guide   Professor Jill Duerr Berrick, Blue Ribbon Commission Member, given Cal Alumni Association's Excellence in Service Award


Message from the Chair
I am happy to release our September/October 2010 issue of the Foster Care Reform Update: A Briefing for County and Statewide Collaborations. This has been a very exciting time for those of us working on foster care reform! First, as I am sure you've heard, the California Legislature just passed AB 12, which would provide federally subsidized relative guardianships and extend foster care jurisdiction to age 21.

The bill is now on Governor Schwarzenegger's desk, awaiting his signature. The legislation would advance some of our commission's key recommendations, and would make an enormous difference in the lives of this state's foster youth aging out of the foster care system, who would be given a few more years to establish life-long connections and make the huge transition from foster care to independent living.
See full message.

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Commissioner Miryam Choca on Program Planning in Tough Economic Times
I was asked to share thoughts about program planning in tough economic times. Let's start with a couple of assumptions: Times are not going to get much better in the foreseeable future, so it follows that those interested in implementing and supporting sustainable systems improvements may need to transition to smaller, more effective operations. What do I mean by this? Examples can be seen in some of the collaborative work of local foster care commissions that formed or expanded in response to our commission's recommendations.
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Shasta County Local Commission Making Big Changes With Limited Resources
When Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn't matter who gets the credit," he had no idea that it would turn out to be a perfect description of the Blue Ribbon Committee of Shasta County, formed after the 2008 statewide Blue Ribbon Commission-sponsored summit for local county teams.
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In the News: San Diego-Volunteers Act Like Parents Foster Children Never Had
Voices for Children pairs volunteer advocates with foster children in the region to identify and advocate for their needs.
See the article in the Union-Tribune

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In the News: Orange County Teen Foster Boys' Court
Less than a year after opening a special collaborative court for girls in the juvenile dependency system, the Orange County Superior Court is gearing up to launch its counterpart: a boys' court. The court, unique in the state, will offer court supervision, services and counseling to teenage boys who were victims of neglect or abuse and have ended up in long-term foster care.
Read Daily Journal story

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In the News: Calaveras County First 5 Rolls Out Parenting Workshops
First 5 Calaveras is offering a series of workshops, seminars and counseling sessions to help the community implement healthy parenting methods in their families. The parent education programs are funded through a $240,000 grant from Calaveras County Behavioral Health Services. Those funds were garnered through Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act, passed by California voters in 2004.
Read the article in the Calaveras Enterprise

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San Francisco's Juvenile Reentry Court to Participating Youth: "We've Got Your Back"
On Thursday mornings in Department 4 at San Francisco's Youth Guidance Center, Judge Kathleen Kelly presides over the Juvenile Reentry Court, a pioneering collaborative model court-the only one in the nation where the juvenile court is directly involved. The court officially began in December 2009 as the result of a Second Chance Act grant from the Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to implement the Juvenile Collaborative Reentry Team (JCRT), a collaboration between the juvenile court, the juvenile probation department, the public defender's office, and the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) to provide coordinated and comprehensive reentry case planning and aftercare services for youth returning to the community from out-of-home placement.
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Local Resource: Alameda County CASA Guide to Independent Living
CASA volunteers in Alameda County have a new resource to help them assist the youth they represent to become independent and responsible adults. The Guide to Independent Living for Transitional Age and Emancipated Foster Youth was written by CASA Case Supervisor Tara Beckman and is intended to be a resource for CASA volunteers, transitioning youth from 15 to 19, and partner youth organizations to improve the outcomes of youth exiting the foster care system in Alameda County.
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Resource: Foster Youth Transition Checklist
The Alliance for Children's Rights in Los Angeles created a Foster Youth Transition Checklist to aid judicial officers in ensuring that a youth's transition out of the foster care system is as successful as possible. The court is urged to consider each question on the checklist before closing a youth's foster care case.

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Resource: Local Commission Website
In response to requests from local teams that wanted a place to post materials easily accessible to their whole collaborative group, the AOC recently launched the Local Blue Ribbon Commission website, which is a component of the pre-existing California Dependency Online Guide. On this new website county teams can exchange ideas and information within their own county and across other counties in California.
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Liaison Profile: Laura Pedicini
Most of Laura Pedicini's nine liaison counties are rural and all feature farming or ranching. That suits Laura just fine. She lives in the small farming community of Gustine in Merced County, where her husband's family has a cherry orchard. She is the liaison to Glenn, Mariposa, Merced, Nevada, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Shasta, Tehama, and Yolo Counties. Before coming to work as an attorney with the AOC Center for Families, Children & the Courts, Laura was first a public defender for two years in Stanislaus County, representing parents and children in juvenile dependency proceedings and children in juvenile delinquency proceedings; she then spent seven years as a juvenile dependency and delinquency appellate attorney, again representing both children and parents.
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Resource: County Liaisons
The AOC has assigned each county in California a liaison with expertise in juvenile dependency law to provide assistance to new local blue ribbon commission collaborations. The liaisons can provide assistance in a variety of ways.
County liaison contact information

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Subscribe to the California Dependency Online Guide
This free technical assistance website for juvenile dependency judicial officers, attorneys, social workers, and other child welfare professionals provides a variety of legal and educational resources, including a searchable dependency case law database, publications and training materials. Subscribe here.

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“Foster Care Reform Update: A Briefing for County and Statewide Collaborations” is produced by the AOC Center for Families, Children, & the Courts. Questions, comments, or article ideas should be directed to Chris Cleary. All other questions and requests for subscriptions may be directed to Carolynn Bernabe at 415-865-7556.

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