Full Court Press Newsletter
Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts
Issue VI
October 2013

Greetings from the University of Baltimore School of Law Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC). Welcome to the sixth issue of CFCC's "Full Court Press" E-newsletter, which explores the impact of intervention by specialty courts on the child welfare system and the growing trend of raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction.

In This Issue
Intervention by Specialty Courts Can Lead to Decreased Time in Foster Care, Study Shows

When families face issues like divorce, child custody, juvenile delinquency, and drug or alcohol abuse, children are often the victims.   In many of these cases, they spend months, even years, in the foster care system.  According to a major new study released this summer, however, children spend less time in foster care and are more likely to be reunited with their parents or primary caregivers if these issues are brought before a specialty or problem-solving court.

In their study, "Do Specialty Courts Achieve Better Outcomes for Children in Foster Care than General Courts?,"  Duke University researchers Frank Sloan, PhD, Elizabeth Gifford, PhD, and Lindsey Eldred, JD, assessed the effects of unified family courts and drug treatment courts on the resolution of cases involving foster care children. The study included all 23 unified family courts and 39 drug treatment courts in North Carolina from 1997-2008. The researchers found that in counties with unified family courts, children spent an average of 29 fewer days in foster care per placement and were 11 percent more likely to be reunified with a parent or primary caregiver.  (Continued)

Illinois Raises age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction, Reflecting Growing Trend

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed a law that raises the age of the state's juvenile court jurisdiction to include 17-year-olds charged with felonies. The legislation allows youth to be tried as juveniles and sent to rehabilitative services in the juvenile justice system rather than to receive adult criminal convictions and records. (The law does not change state laws that allow youth who commit certain serious crimes, such as first degree murder, to be automatically waived to adult criminal court.) Illinois joins 38 states that currently prosecute 17-year-olds charged with felonies in juvenile court.
"The juvenile court has demonstrated a proven ability to hold youth accountable while reforming their behavior," said Elizabeth Clarke, President of the Juvenile Justice Initiative. "Young people receive age-appropriate services and continue their schooling and are far more likely to change behaviors for the better than they would if locked up in a prison far from their families."

Further, said Clark, "We commend Gov. Quinn for signing this bill, which is in line with findings of research into development of the adolescent brain, as well as sound fiscal reasoning.  Juveniles, who are developmentally less competent than adults, can and do change behaviors and better decisions when they mature. This legislation will help them make those changes sooner and not suffer setbacks that often happen to youth spending their days and nights in prison cells." (Continued)

Barbara Babb, Associate Professor of Law and Director, Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts

CFCC Staff: Gloria Danziger, Senior Fellow; Andrea Bento, Truancy Court Program Manager and School Liaison; Anthony "Bubba" Green, Truancy Court Program Mentor Coordinator; Catherine Jackson, Truancy Court Program Co-Manager; Elizabeth Mullen, Program Administrative Specialist; Christopher Gibson, Administrative Assistant

Editing Staff: Barbara Babb, Editor; Gloria Danziger, Editor/Writer; Andrea Bento, Editor/Writer; Elizabeth Mullen, Editor; Christopher Gibson, Editor

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