02/07/2006 - Pew Commission Progress Report: State Courts, Congress Act on Commission Recommendations;
Less than two years after release of the Pew Commission’s recommendations to reform foster care, states, state court leaders, and the U.S. Congress have acted to implement significant portions of its nonpartisan policy agenda, and several key advocacy groups have voiced their support for the recommendations.
Action at the state level includes:
Action by Congress includes the following provisions in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005:
- The leadership of state courts and child welfare agencies from almost every state participated in a first-of-its-kind national judicial summit in September 2005. The summit was spearheaded by the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators in partnership with the National Center for State Courts and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. At the summit, state teams developed comprehensive action plans to speed the movement of children out of foster care and into safe, permanent families, guided in part by the Pew Commission recommendations. A national call to action reporting on the summit and summarizing the action plans will be released later this month by the National Center for State Courts.
- Fifteen states have established or are planning new commissions on children in foster care that include state court and agency leadership, as recommended by the Pew Commission. The states are: California, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
- Four state Supreme Courts, in California, New York, Texas and Arkansas, have passed resolutions in support of the Pew Commission recommendations.
- Chief Justices across the country have answered the Pew Commission’s challenge to serve as champions for children in their courts, bringing much needed high-level attention and targeted assistance to statewide efforts to strengthen the dependency courts.
- $50 million (over 5 years) in new grants to state Supreme Courts to strengthen state courts’ oversight of children in foster care by adopting and using court performance measures.
- $50 million (over 5 years) in new grants to state Supreme Courts to train judges, attorneys, and other personnel in child welfare proceedings, with a portion of these training funds to be used for joint training with child welfare agency personnel.
- New requirements that state courts, child welfare agencies, and Indian tribes demonstrate “substantial, ongoing, and meaningful collaboration” in administering child welfare services as a condition for receiving federal child welfare funds.
These provisions of the Deficit Reduction Act mirror recommendations by the Pew Commission, as well as provisions in S. 1679 "WE CARE Kids: Working to Enhance Courts for At-risk and Endangered Kids Act of 2005," introduced last year by Sens. Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).Key national advocacy groups took the following steps:
About the Pew Commission:
- The National Congress of American Indians and the United South and Eastern Tribes passed resolutions in support of the Pew Commission’s call for equitable treatment of Indian children in the dependency courts and in the way foster care and child welfare services are financed.
- The nation’s leading judicial and legal associations – the Conference of Chief Justices, the Conference of State Court Administrators, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the American Bar Association, and the National Association of Council for Children - have endorsed the Pew Commission’s court recommendations.
- The North American Council for Adoptable Children and the National Council for Adoption have voiced their support for Pew Commission financing and court recommendations.
The nonpartisan Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care was launched on May 7, 2003. Supported by grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts and The Annie E. Casey Foundation to the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute, the panel includes some of the nation's leading child welfare experts. The panel was charged with developing practical, evidence-based recommendations related to federal financing and court oversight of child welfare to improve outcomes for children in foster care, particularly to expedite the movement of children from foster care to safe, permanent families and to prevent unnecessary placements in foster care.
For additional information about the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, or to view its report, please visit: www.pewfostercare.org