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October 2007Vol. 8, No. 9Court Practices Can Support Better Outcomes for Foster Children

Courts can play an important role in helping to improve educational outcomes for children and youth in foster care. A new study, Court-Based Education Efforts for Children in Foster Care: The Experience of the Pima County Juvenile Court (Arizona), provides an indepth review of court reforms and strategies that supported improved outcomes in one jurisdiction.

As a participant in the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) Model Courts Project, the Pima County Juvenile Court embarked on a 4-year project that took the county from simply having an interest in improving educational outcomes to making real improvements in courtroom policy and practice. The results of this study show that specific court practices can do much to keep foster children enrolled in school and receiving the supports and services that they need.

The study includes a "road map" for education reform that identifies necessary elements and strategies, such as:

  • Judicial leadership
  • Stakeholder involvement
  • School district buy-in
  • Data collection and project evaluation
  • Youth voice in court

The report is published by the Permanency Planning Department of the NCJFCJ, with the support of Casey Family Programs. The full report, researched and written by Kim Taitano, is available online: (PDF - 546 KB)

Related Items

A new report, Visitation with Infants and Toddlers in Foster Care: What Judges and Attorneys Need to Know, provides an overview of the importance of a young child to his or her parents, discusses how appropriate visitation can preserve those important attachments and support successful reunification efforts, and describes some promising practices. The report was published by the ABA Center on Children and the Law and the ZERO TO THREE Policy Center and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Maternal and Child Health Bureau. (PDF - 624 KB

This and other resources on the needs of infants and toddlers in foster care can be found on a new web section developed by the ABA Center on Children and the Law, Improving the Understanding of Maternal and Child Health: