35 Child L. Prac. 1 (2016)

handle is hein.journals/chilawpt35 and id is 1 raw text is: 
















IIMPROVING' C~rt,-,-'


Enhancing the Quality of Hearings in New York State:

               Using Data to Drive Improvement
                    by Alicia Summers  and Christine Kiesel


'Tlhe law requires frequent judicial review to achieve timely
. permanency for children placed outside of their homes. How
do you  ensure quality does  not get pushed  aside for timeliness? Go
to the frontlines --- observe court hearings, talk to and survey jurists,
child welfare clients, attorneys, foster parents and others. Gather
data to gauge  what is happening  in court, what's working  and
what's  not.


    This is the approach New York
State is taking, with good results. This
article shares that approach and offers
ideas for other states looking to keep
quality at the forefront in child welfare
proceedings.


In December 2005, New York enacted
ambitious legislation to strengthen
the judicial oversight of child welfare
cases required by the Adoption and
Safe Families Act (ASFA). That leg-
islation created a new Article 10-A of
the Family Court Act requiring more
frequent permanency hearings for all
children who are the subject of peti-
tions alleging abuse or neglect, or for
whom  an application is sought seek-
ing voluntary placement into foster
care. The new law replaced a prior law
which mirrored ASFA's timeframes.
New  York State Family Court Act
(FCA) Article 10-A provides that the
initial permanency hearing for a child
who is not freed for adoption begin
generally no later than ...six months
from the date which is sixty days after


the child was removed from his or her
home:  and that later permanency
hearings be scheduled for a date
certain which shall be no later than
six months after the completion of the
previous permanency hearing...2 This
mandatory expedited timeframe for
holding permanency hearings allows
jurists and professionals to attend
more often to the critical conversations
that are necessary to achieve timely,
safe., and appropriate permanency for
children.
    A review of New York State's data
on the timeliness of permanency hear-
ings shows the legislative effort to hold
more frequent permanency hearings
was successful. The data reveal that
for the 2012 entry cohort of children,
83%  of initial permanency hearings
were completed within the statutory
timeframes, and 93% of subsequent
permanency hearings were completed
timely.
    Despite the legislation's success,
requiring permanency hearings in a
shorter time frame added pressure to
an overburdened court system and


jurists' calendars. It also lacked added
resources to support implementation.
    In addition to increasing the
number  and frequency of perma-
nency hearings Article 10-A aims to
provide children placed out of their
homes  timely and effective judicial
review that promotes permanency,
safety and well-being in their lives.
To fulfill that purpose, jurists were
required to hear these cases more fre-
quently and address children's safety,
permanency, and well-being. The
challenge became carving out enough
time to provide children with this ef-
fective judicial review in the face of
existing stresses on the system.
                       (Cont'd on p. 6)

         What's   Inside:
  2  CASE  LAW   UPDATE
  10  TOOLBOX
      What is My Next Question?
      Four Common   Interviewer
      Responses
  II  LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
      President Obama Reauthorizes
      Every Student Succeeds Act
  12  POLICY   UPDATE
      The State of Grandfamilies in
      America: 2015
  14  NEW   IN PRINT
      Representing Parents in Child
      Welfare Cases
  16  CAREER   CORNER

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