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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Family Law: Kentucky's Summit on Children Held Aug. 27-29 with Regional Summits in the future

The Administrative Office of the Courts together with various sponsors held a Kentucky Summit on Children on Aug. 27-29.  This is only the first phase with regional summits to follow.  Here is the agenda of the first summit.

Remarks of Chief Justice Lambert on the scope, purpose and goals of the summit are as follows.

Regional summits throughout Kentucky are also scheduled.

The summit's sponsors are thanked and are "below the fold"

Chief Justice Lambert's Remarks on the Summit (from AOC Pages)

By Joseph E. Lambert
Chief Justice of Kentucky
August 2007

The waning days of August will find more than 500 professionals convening in Louisville to discuss one of the most pressing issues facing Kentucky today: how Kentucky courts can improve services to our children.

From Aug. 27-29, the first Kentucky Summit on Children – the largest-ever gathering of its kind in Kentucky – will bring together judges, attorneys, legislators, guardians ad litem, child welfare officials, court system personnel, and foster parents and children to shine a light on decision-making for children in the child welfare system and before our courts.

The numbers are extraordinary. Each year in the United States, 3 million reports of abuse or neglect are made to child protective services, with 900,000 of those becoming substantiated cases. There are 520,000 children in the foster care system nationwide and in Kentucky approximately 6,300 children are in the custody of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services because of dependency, neglect or abuse. In addition, children from minority groups are twice as likely to be in the child welfare system and they experience both longer stays in out-of-home care and more frequent moves within the system. In addition, last year alone, habitual truancy cases were the number one status offense for juveniles in Kentucky, with more than 6,500 truancy cases processed in our court system.

The Summit on Children will feature national and local speakers who will address critical topics such as overcoming barriers to justice for children; best practices for ensuring safety, permanency and well-being for children; understanding the parameters of the courts; at-risk juveniles and the juvenile justice system; combating truancy; and developing regional action plans. After the Summit is over, regional meetings will be held throughout Kentucky to provide the opportunity for follow-up in local communities.

I directed the Administrative Office of the Courts to convene the Kentucky Summit on Children as the result of a challenge issued by Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye of New York, who hosted a national Summit on Children in New York City in March. She encouraged chief justices and child welfare experts to discuss how court systems across our nation can be made accountable in providing services to families and children.

"You will have an opportunity to jump-start those partnerships in meetings of your state delegations here – to identify initiatives to take back home and implement, to forge collaborations across systems and across states, to define your measures of success and map out how to reach them," said Chief Judge Kaye in her opening remarks.

"We seek justice for children in the broadest sense," she added, "not just by processing or adjudicating their cases, but by assisting them in solving their problems so that they leave our courthouses and our child welfare systems far better off than when they entered. We call this 'problem-solving justice' and justice, as you know, is a joint enterprise."

The need to continually improve Kentucky courts and our child welfare system is a joint enterprise indeed and I appreciate the support of our state and national partners in hosting this important event. We have received support from the American Bar Association, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the Center for School Safety, the Citizen Foster Care Review Boards, the Department of Education, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, the Kentucky Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, the Kentucky Bar Association and Kentucky Bar Foundation, Kentucky Child Now!, the Louisville Bar Association, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Operation UNITE and Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky. I especially want to thank the Kentucky Adoption Blue Ribbon Panel for bringing important child welfare issues to the forefront.

To these partners, I express my sincere gratitude.

The Kentucky Summit on Children will shine a light on the vulnerable, hurting children behind the cold statistics. We intend to identify the strengths and weaknesses of our current system and continue our endeavor to provide a bright and promising future to the children who need us most.

Summit Sponsors

American Bar Association

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Citizen Foster Care Review Boards

Court Appointed Special Advocates

Department of Education

Department of Juvenile Justice

Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Juvenile Justice Advisory Board

Kentucky Bar Association

Kentucky Bar Foundation

Kentucky Child Now!

Louisville Bar Association

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Operation UNITE

Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky


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