In this Issue:
Justice Carlos Moreno, chair of the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care, has been given a 2009 Ruth Massinga Award by the Casey Family Programs for his work as a kinship caregiver and an advocate for caregivers through the Blue Ribbon Commission. The Ruth Massinga Awards honor foster care constituents who work to provide, improve, and prevent the need for foster care. The award will be presented at a ceremony in Seattle in January. Read more about this wonderful honor in the next issue of Foster Care Reform Update.
Message from Justice MorenoTOP
I am delighted to launch our second issue of "Foster Care Reform Update: A Briefing for County and Statewide Collaborations." This month holds special meaning for me. For the eleventh year, the Judicial Council has declared November to be Court Adoption and Permanency Month (see short video) in recognition of National Adoption Month. This annual recognition highlights the Judicial Council's commitment to finding permanent homes for children. And why does this hold special meaning for me? Because this year, on December 11, 2009, my wife Christine and I will be finalizing the adoption of our severely autistic niece, Heather, who has been in our care for the last nine years. As many of you know, my experience as a relative caregiver for Heather has been a driving force for my work with the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care.
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Commissioner Edwards on Aging Out of Foster Care. . .Into CollegeTOP
Michelle was frightened. Big things were happening in her life. She was turning 18, graduating from high school (the first person in her family to do so) and her juvenile court case was going to be dismissed. She was frightened because she had been in foster care for five years. Her father was in prison and her mother had not been heard from in several years. Michelle didn't know what she was going to do with her life. When asked in court, she said she might get a job and possibly would move in with her boyfriend.
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San Luis Obispo Local Commission Opens Children's Waiting RoomTOP
When the newly formed San Luis Obispo County local foster care commission decided the court needed a children's waiting room where attorneys, judges, and CASA advocates could interview young children in a non-intimidating environment, it found a shortage of appropriate space in the court building. That is, until Judge Ginger Garrett offered up her personal chambers for the project. According to Judge Garrett, she "wanted to create a child-friendly space to reduce stress for children who come to court." The room has been painted in a calming underwater theme by a local muralist and filled with educational toys and books. The waiting room, the local commission's first project, opened in late May.
Read full story.
Imperial County Local Commission Focuses on Making Change with Scant ResourcesTOP
Judge Juan Ulloa notes that in Imperial County there is no fighting over dwindling resources. Representing the county with the lowest income and highest unemployment in the United States, Judge Ulloa said, "We all know that there is not enough on our table to fight over. We have no choice but to work together on behalf of the children and families in our county" to maximize the reach of inadequate resources. He comments that one of the strengths of a county with a small population (260,000) like Imperial is that it is "small enough to get all the players around the table." While the court has been regularly meeting with a case-related collaboration of attorneys, social workers, and CASA advocates since 2005, that collaboration greatly expanded when it formed the Imperial County Blue Ribbon Commission.
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Imperial County Success: Sarah and Odyssey Find a Permanent HomeTOP
Sarah and Odyssey's mothers are twin sisters. Both moms have serious substance abuse problems. Until four years ago they all lived together with the girls' grandmother, who made sure they were well cared for and loved. But then their grandmother died of breast cancer and their lives were turned upside down.
Read full story.
In the News: Inyo County Foster Care Commission Launches "Loving Stitches for Foster Children" Quilt ProjectTOP
"Placement in foster care can be traumatic. The warmth and security that comes from wrapping yourself in your very own quilt can be very comforting to these vulnerable children," explained Judge Dean Stout, who is credited with coming up with the idea for local residents to make quilts for foster kids that they can keep forever.
See the article in the Inyo Register (PDF).
In the News: Fresno County Cultural Brokers ProgramTOP
The Fresno County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), together with California State University, Fresno, are collaborating on a research project aimed at keeping vulnerable families from becoming part of the child welfare system. The brain child of Professor Margaret Jackson at Fresno State, the program pairs at-risk families with a "cultural broker"-an advocate, ideally from the same culture as the family, who has received extensive training on the child welfare system, has an extensive knowledge of the family's culture, and specialized knowledge about substance abuse, ICWA, domestic violence, or immigration issues that might be needed to best serve the family. With the mission of leading an integrated network of community partners that supports, protects and strengthens children and families, DCFS is off to a good start with this three-year-old project funded by the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC).
See the Fresno Local ABC Affiliate (KFSN) story.
Liaison Profile: Kerry DoyleTOP
Kerry Doyle is the local foster care commission liaison to Calaveras, Contra Costa, Humboldt, Napa, Orange, Sutter, Tehama, Ventura, and Yuba Counties. She has been an attorney with the AOC's Center for Families, Children & the Courts (CFCC) since 2004, where she works on the Juvenile Court Assistance Team (JCAT). Kerry graduated from the King Hall School of Law at the University of California, Davis, where she was a Public Interest Law Scholar. She earned her undergraduate degrees, in psychology and sociology/law and society, at the University of California, Riverside. Before joining the CFCC team, Kerry represented children and parents in dependency proceedings, and children in high-conflict family law custody matters. She also consulted on and edited "The Incarcerated Parent's Manual," a guide to California dependency court proceedings published by Prisoner Legal Services and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.
Read full profile