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March 2003Vol. 4, No. 2Project Confirm Helps Arrested Foster Care Teens Avoid Unnecessary Detention

When teens in foster care are arrested, they frequently face a bias regarding detention decisions. Officials sometimes do not know the teens are in foster care or whom to call. Sometimes foster parents and caseworkers are reluctant to go to court on the children's behalf, because they are confused about their responsibilities or hope another system will take care of the problem. For the last 3 years, the Vera Institute of Justice's Project Confirm has helped the New York City child welfare and juvenile justice systems work together to nearly eliminate this detention bias against foster children.

Before the program began, police, juvenile probation officers, and detention staff had struggled to identify children in foster care, contact the adults responsible for them, and convince those adults to come to the station or courthouse. Many foster children spent time unnecessarily in locked facilities--losing their placements in foster homes and facing a lengthy replacement process. Now when kids are arrested, Project Confirm staff check child welfare records to determine whether they are in foster care. Staff then notify the appropriate agencies, inform the agencies of their obligation to provide information and stand up for the kids in court, and guide them through that process.

The benefits of Project Confirm are many, including quicker services for arrested children and the less frequent need to find a new home for a foster child who has been arrested. Vera is now helping officials from Georgia, South Carolina, Washington, and Illinois adapt components of the project for their States.

Project Confirm is reviewed in the May/June 2002 issue of Child Welfare Journal. A summary of that article can be found on the website of the Research & Training Center on Family Support and Children's Mental Health, at

For more information about Project Confirm, contact:
Heidi Segal
Phone: (212) 376-3032

Related Items

Read more about the connections between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems in previous editions of Children's Bureau Express:

  • "Disproportionality in Juvenile Justice System May Have Roots in Child Welfare" (Dec 2002/Jan 2003)
  • "New Report Examines the Link Between Childhood Maltreatment and Juvenile Delinquency" (November/December 2001)