Best Practices: Foster Care

There is a far-reaching stereotype that the foster care system often times hurts those involved more than it helps. My goal is to target potential policies that can make the system contact more positive for all of the individuals involved. First, I will look at the issue of placement instability. This will include looking at state legislation to determine what the current placement procedures are. More specifically, I will focus on foster parents and their legal obligations when deciding to terminate a placement. Additionally, I will analyze how the current shortage of foster parents contributes to the problem.

Second, I will write about the intersection between immigration status and the foster care system. This will include looking at the effects of immigration status on the children, parents, and placement options. My interest in this was drawn from the importance of immigration status in criminal proceedings. Defense attorneys are obligated to take this into account in order to provide effective assistance of counsel and prosecutors have to consider this factor when offering pleas. Therefore, I want to know whether special consideration to a person’s immigration status is built into the foster care system like it is in the criminal justice system. Are there any safeguards in place that keep a party’s immigration status confidential throughout the proceedings? Do foster youth or parents who are undocumented receive any special services? Does the system help foster youth obtain DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) before they age out? Are there any social services limitations to undocumented youth given their ineligibility for many government services? Are undocumented youth provided with tools to cope with the extra layer of fear? Overall, my goal is to determine how the system uses procedure to improve outcomes.

My name is Keuren Parra and I am a second-year student at Santa Clara University School of Law. My goal after law school is to work at a Public Defender’s office. I currently intern at the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s office and have previously interned at the Stanislaus County Public Defender’s office, the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center, California Rural Legal Assistance, the Department of Justice, and a private immigration law firm. My work has revolved around serving underprivileged communities, but my interest in the above topics came from a more personal connection. As a teen, one of my best friends was a foster child facing placement instability. Additionally, I come from a family of undocumented individuals and understand the trauma and complications that come along with the lack of lawful immigration status. These experiences allow me to view the foster care system from a unique perspective, and I hope that my work on this topic can aid in the search for effective solutions to these problems.

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The Other Bail System: Immigration Detention and Immigration Bonds

My name is Lizbeth Mateo. I am a 3L at Santa Clara Law with an interest in employment and immigration law. Prior to coming to law school I worked with undocumented immigrant families to fight against the deportation of their loved ones. My research will focus on immigration bail, not only because of the work I have done in the past but because being an undocumented immigrant myself makes this an issue that directly impacts me and my family.

When I started thinking about bail and how it works in the immigration context, I realized how little I know about the topic and how little information is available to the public. Since 2007, the national average daily detainee population has been more than 30,000. In fiscal year 2015 alone 406,595 immigrants were detained. A number of those detained were able to reunite with their loved ones either by posting bond or because they were released under their own recognizance – a promise to return to court for further proceedings. It is unclear, however, how many were released in this way— federal population statistics do not include the number of releases, and the numbers on the Transactional Record Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) website do not reflect these numbers either.

My research will be divided into three prongs. First, I will explain how immigration detention and immigration bail works by comparing it to the criminal system. Then I will focus on the issues immigrants face when trying to post bail – from the potential high bail amounts, the lack of resources to pay that money, language barriers when contracting with bail bond companies, and whether bail bond companies have different contracts or regulatory requirements for undocumented immigrants in ICE custody. I will also look at the state and federal regulatory framework for immigration bond services. I will conclude by focusing on pre-deportation release – the possible alternatives to immigration detention and bail, the cost of these alternatives, and the impact they may have on the detained immigrants and their families.