Certain similarities exist between the children and youth in the foster care system and those in the criminal justice system. Often these youths are in unstable housing, have parents who might have substance abuse or domestic violence issues, have difficulties in finishing a high school education and behavioral issues while in school. In addition, they are more likely to end up in the criminal justice system as adults and not have as much stability as compared to the general population. This comparison is not to conflate the two populations, but to explore and analyze the different treatment between them. Foster youth receive certain benefits during their time in the system that are not afforded to children in the criminal justice system. My research would explore the differences in treatment between the two populations, why there is a difference, and hopefully generate some policy suggestions to create better outcomes and safer communities. My thought from the outset is if youth in the criminal justice system were given some of the benefits and/or services afforded to foster youth, they might have better outcomes than there are now. The benefits to this approach would hopefully be better experiences for youth growing up in turbulent environments, taxpayers wouldn’t have to spend as much on incarceration, and society as a whole would be safer and better to some of our most vulnerable citizens.
My name is Pedro Naveiras and I am a second-year law student at Santa Clara University. Prior to law school I worked in education and local government, but I went to law school knowing I wanted to be a prosecutor. I attended CSU Bakersfield studying Philosophy and Political Science. I worked for the Kern County District Attorney’s Office last summer and will be clerking at the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office this summer. I look forward to learning more about the approaches and taking this knowledge to whatever District Attorney’s office I end up working at.
The foster care system has me pulling my hair out. Everyone agrees it’s broken. That’s pretty much all they agree on. I don’t think that anyone wants to hurt kids, but the system as it is does just that. Politics can be maddening, but nothing puts it in perspective like a child’s suffering. Still, I can’t scream at the ceiling about the ways of the world forever (I guess I could, but what’s the point?). I want to figure out how to work around the bureaucracy to help kids.
I think the most pressing issue is the shortage of foster homes, so I’m starting there. It’s interesting to think about how many other problems are caused by this one. Placement instability leads to inconsistent schooling, which leads to inadequate education, which leads to fewer future opportunities for a child. Often the only option in a strained system, group homes are a hotbed for further abuse and neglect. I hope that addressing the foster home shortage can have a lasting positive impact on multiple issues.
Over the past five years, the number of children in foster care has increased by 10 percent, while the number of homes is dropping. Growing social problems like the national opioid crisis and inadequate affordable housing are among many factors contributing to this problem.
In the past three years alone, California has spent an estimated $140 million on efforts to increase the number of foster homes. Legislation is blooming around the country with measures to recruit and approve more foster families. In January 2018, Arizona lawmakers made changes to their kinship placement program which prioritized placement with non-parent family members. California is also speeding up its approval process for kinship placements. California and South Carolina reworked their licensing standards so that more families could qualify to be foster homes. In Washington state, officials raised the maximum number of children that can be placed in a foster home in an emergency.
What are these programs, and will they work? Through my research this Spring, I will compare programs from around the country and analyze their impact. I will also look at the spiderweb of problems that are connected to the foster home shortage, and what practical solutions lawmakers should use to address these issues.
My name is Aaron Rojas, I am a second year law
student at Santa Clara University. I grew up in San Jose and have had to
overcome my fair share of obstacles to get where I am today. While completing
my undergraduate degree at San Jose State University, I spent time volunteering
in the Franklin McKinley School District. Many of the children I mentored faced
tough academic challenges as well as challenges at home. I could tell that
these challenges would eventually contribute to their struggle for success
later on in life. It was this experience that motivated me to attend law school
because I feel I will be able to have a greater positive impact on my
community. This semester I plan on learning more about the intersection of the
foster care system and the juvenile justice system.
Dually Involved Youth (DIY) programs provide
wrapped services for families who are involved in both the foster care and
juvenile justice systems. This approach increases the child’s chance of
achieving positive outcomes, including educational achievements (like
graduating from high school or college) and life success (like maintaining a
job, having housing, and staying out of prison). DIY programs facilitate
communication between different service providers to provide access to the best
combination of services for the family. Increased communication leads to better
The problem is that DIY programs are not the
standard in many jurisdictions, meaning many of the most at risk youth get
inadequate services. By increasing communication between the agencies involved,
better decisions can be made in placement of children and services for both
parents and children. I will propose making DIY programs standard in
jurisdictions across the U.S.
Hi, I’m Lauryn Barbosa and I am a second-year student at Santa Clara University School of Law. I was born and raised in the Bay Area and received a B.A. in Intercultural Peace and Justice Studies, with a minor in History, at Holy Names University in Oakland. During my undergraduate studies, I was exposed to, and became passionate about, social justice. What I learned about the injustice of our criminal “justice” system, coupled with the experiences of members of my family affected by that system, drove me to attend law school. I hope to become an attorney to advance social justice by representing indigent clients in criminal defense.
Throughout this policy seminar, I will be exploring the role that the police and the Agency ― the majority of California counties refer to Child Protective Services under that moniker ― play in the removal of children and how reliance on its discretion results in an inconsistent application of the law. In 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held in Demaree v. Pederson that “there is no qualified immunity for investigators who remove children from a home without a warrant or immediate threat of serious physical harm to the child at all.” In this instance, a couple appealed an order of summary judgment in favor of a social worker who was alleged to have committed a violation of their constitutional rights. The couple faced criminal charges and their children were removed from their home for a month after a Wal-Mart photo technician reported photos of their children in the bathtub. A police officer made an unsubstantiated recommendation that the children were being sexually abused, which the social worker decided was determinative ― even though the children underwent medical exams for sexual trauma that came back normal and there was no other evidence. While this decision was essential for accountability and should be celebrated, this is just one instance in a sea of many where the state’s intervention did much more harm than good.
mentioned above, local agencies retain broad discretion, under California
Health and Institutions Code § 300, to remove children and this often leads
to inconsistent application of the rules, especially when it comes to substance
abuse related neglect. This is the niche area I will hone in on. Because every
family situation is unique, I understand the necessity of some discretion on
the part of the government agencies. However, I believe this unbridled
discretion has created a culture where children are either snatched away from
their families and placed in foster care preemptively or suffer serious harm or
death because the state refuses to step in. There has to be a way to develop
better statutory and policy standards that can hold the Agency and the police
accountable before the only relief available is a lawsuit, since at that point
the damage is already done and the trauma has already been inflicted.
This area is of particular interest to me because I have witnessed the lives of children be severely impacted by the decisions of the police and the Agency in this exact area and the courses of action were drastically different in each case. While the cases I witnessed first-hand will not be the focus of my research, I will use other cases to compare the facts and identify patterns in the actions of the Agency and police officers regarding the removal of children. I will also use current police manuals and policy guides to demonstrate the issues with current protocol. I am intending to use those patterns and current policy guides to formulate policy recommendations that will provide for a more consistent application of the state’s obligation to protect children under California Health and Institutions Code § 300.
My name is Farouq Ghazzawi, but I
prefer to be called Vince. I’m half Middle Eastern (Saudi Arabia & Egypt)
and half Hispanic (Spain & Peru). I was born in Saudi Arabia and lived
there for several years, after which I lived in London, England for a year, before
finally moving to the United States when I was 8 years old. I grew up in
Riverside, CA. I received my B.A. in Political Science and History from UC
Davis, my M.A. in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Middlebury
Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and I’m here at Santa Clara Law
to receive my J.D. in order to become a District Attorney. I have interned at the
Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office in both the Misdemeanor and
Homicide Units, and this summer I will be interning at the Contra Costa County
District Attorney’s Office. My goal is to be a prosecutor for a decade or so in
the hopes of then running for elected office. I am committed to fighting for
criminal justice reform and equality. Before coming to law school, I planned to
work for the NSA as an Intelligence Analyst, but I declined their job offer in
order to pursue my childhood dream of going to law school.
I signed up for this class because,
as someone who aspires to become a prosecutor, I feel it is my duty to learn about
the foster care and juvenile justice system. My hope is that with the knowledge
I gain that I can make a positive difference when I have prosecutorial
discretion. Additionally, I signed up for this class because I wanted to help
be a part of something bigger than myself and work towards crafting legislation
that can improve the foster care and juvenile justice systems. I’m a firm
believer that our criminal justice system is unfair, especially for people of
color. I also believe how a government spends its money is a reflection of who
it thinks is important and worth saving, the more a government invests in its
people the more that government values its people.
The theme of my research and
writing will be “The Perils and Promises of Localism in Juvenile Justice.” In
my exploration of this topic, I will be researching whether—and why—California should
have local variations of juvenile justice. We have statewide statutes—why,
then, is there not a state-wide system of monitoring and enforcement in
California? Are there state-wide systems that we could use as models? And would
it be more efficient to have a state-wide system instead of 58 different county
systems? I will also explore how localism plays out in the criminal context,
looking specifically at whether electing a new Chief District Attorney makes a
difference for the office’s culture. I’ll assess the immense change Larry
Krasner’s election as DA of Philadelphia has had on the office and by extension
the office’s programs (with a special focus on Juvenile Justice issues). I will
conclude by suggesting ways in which policymakers can assign local discretion
to maximize good outcomes and minimize bad ones.
My name is Erin Flowers and I am a third year at Santa Clara University School of Law. Having worked in the foster care system as a former social worker in New York City, I’m passionate about finding ways to ensure that the system works well for the children and families it serves.
This semester I’ll be researching and analyzing the foster care system in California, looking to see what role the White Savior Industrial Complex plays. The White Savior Industrial Complex is a term coined by Teju Cole in his 2012 article The White Savior Industrial Complex published in The Atlantic. The term is used to describe the idea that white people often think they know best and “do good” by “saving” poor people, while ignoring the policies they have supported that created the very inequalities and systems of oppression poor people suffer from. Continue reading “White Saviorism in the Foster Care System”
American foster care children are twice as likely to experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than veterans. Additionally, in the United States, adults who have experienced 6 or more ACEs during their childhood are 24.36 times more likely to attempt suicide than a person without ACEs. What is causing these children to experience such severe trauma? Recent studies have examined and categorized traumatic experiences in adolescence, calling them adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s). I would like to examine one particular ACE that many youth, in particular foster youth, share: parental incarceration.
For any child, it is traumatic to watch as law enforcement officers arrest and remove a parent from the home. However, law enforcement intervention is usually an indication of something much more alarming: criminal acts in the home. Those activities, like substance abuse and domestic violence that often become criminal, are additional ACE experiences that will effect the child. Foster youth experience parental incarceration at rates that surpass their peers. 40% of children in the foster care system have experienced the ACE of parental incarceration The Health Resources & Service Administration’s 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health ACE study found that within the subsection of youth who had experienced parental incarceration, 90.6% of those children had additional ACE scores. Knowing the detrimental effects of ACEs, we should take use the event of parental incarceration as an opportunity to talk with the child and the incarcerated parent and provide them with mental health services to treat the trauma they have experienced.
My name is Lucy Duran and I am a third-year student at Santa Clara University School of Law. My emphasis is in criminal prosecution. I have a passion for social justice and keeping my community safe. I have served as an intern at the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office and am a volunteer with the Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY) Program in San Mateo County.
I believe that helping children attain resources to provide them with a safe, healthy foundation to flourish is of vital importance to the community. Before starting law school, I worked as a youth volunteer as a teacher. I have taught Sunday School children ages 3-7 for the last 6 years and worked as a Summer camp counselor for two years. Additionally, I served as a youth director for ages 3-18. I’ve had the privilege to work with youth from a variety of backgrounds and it is important to me to try and provide children with the tools to thrive as adults.