Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nixmary Brown case fallout ups time kids spend in foster care time - study

Children are languishing longer in foster care since the death of Nixzmary Brown because of a growing backlog in Family Court, a new report says.

The number of child abuse and neglect cases referred to court has skyrocketed by 150% since the 7-year-old was beaten to death in January 2006, while the number of judges has remained at 47.

As a result, according to a study of the crisis in Child Welfare Watch conducted by the New School and the Center for an Urban Future, court calendars are logjammed, forcing children to spend more time in foster care waiting for a judge to review their cases.

The state needs to hire more judges, but caseworkers also have to prioritize what they refer to court, said Andrew White, a co-author of the report. In the wake of Brown's death, caseworkers are frequently asking courts to require parents to get outside help even though the same services can be recommended without going to court, White said. Parents can't be forced to comply either way.

"I question whether all those families needed to be brought to court," said Brooklyn Family Court Judge Lee Elkins.

Children averaged 11.5 months in foster care before being reunited with their families last year, up from 10.3 months in 2006 and 6.8 months in 2003.

In 2005, caseworkers referred 5,059 abuse and neglect cases to court. That number hit 12,472 in 2006 and was on pace to hit about 13,000 in 2007, according to the city courts.

Administration for Children's Services boss John Mattingly said the agency only "brings cases to Family Court when we have serious concerns about the safety of children."

Original Article with my reply-

Nixmary Brown case fallout ups time kids spend in foster care time - study

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