To better serve—and save—children at risk of abuse, Family Court and state and city agencies must improve the way they communicate crucial information about troubled families and connect them to the help they need. The latest edition of Child Welfare Watch examines the state of Family Court in the wake of the latest child abuse murder—the death of Nixzmary Brown in January. “The recent flood of new cases, entering an already overwhelmed and broken institution, makes it even more difficult for judges to make well-informed and timely decisions about protecting children and supporting families,” writes Andrew White, co-editor of CWW. Among the report’s recommendations: more state and city investment in legal representation for families who appear before the court; enforcement of the Permanency Law, passed in December 2005, which provides a structure for sharing information in foster care cases among parents, attorneys, caseworkers and judges; the introduction of a quality control system to hold judges and others involved in the court’s proceedings accountable for the prompt scheduling of hearings and dispositions; and the re-focus of legal agencies that represent children on case resolution, not foster care placement and its continued extension. CWW also calls on City Hall to create effective networks between schools, nonprofit preventive services, youth organizations, child care programs, and other community-based institutions that can reach out to families before a crisis occurs. (K. Angelova) [03/20/06]
Child Welfare Watch is a publication of the Center for an Urban Future (a sister organization to City Limits)and the Center for New York City Affairs at Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy.