Judges called on to raise the level of practice to benefit children and families in the child welfare system
Judge Leonard Edwards (Ret.), former Santa Clara County judge, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), the nation’s largest and oldest judicial membership organization, have announced the second edition of the book, “Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective 2nd Edition.”
The first edition was widely distributed in 2014. This second edition focuses on new laws that have passed to continue to address the reasonable efforts issue in child welfare court proceedings. Reasonable efforts are efforts made to preserve and reunify families prior to the placement of a child in foster care, to prevent or eliminate the need for removing the child from his or her home, and to make it possible for a child to return safely to his or her home. The new edition addresses timely issues that affect oversight of social services in a community as well as national trends.
“Juvenile court judges have a different role than other judges within the judiciary, not only on the bench, but in the community,” said Judge Edwards. “Judges are the strongest voice for at-risk children in our respective communities. If significant changes are going to be made in child welfare and juvenile justice, juvenile court judges must be part of the leadership team making those changes. No one else in our communities has the perspective that juvenile court judges have.”
The book’s latest material is intended to assist judges with decisions that affect at-risk families on a daily basis, with meaningful oversight. Attorneys will benefit from issues raised in other jurisdictions and appellate judges will benefit from the experience gained through issues that arise in appellate briefs. The book considers the reasonable efforts finding from a number of perspectives including:
- It reviews the history of the reasonable efforts concept
- It explains the legal requirements on children’s services agencies
- It discusses the failure of federal legislation to define reasonable efforts and its impact
- It examines the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and “active efforts”
- It examines barriers that limit a judge or attorney’s ability to address the issue
“‘Reasonable Efforts’ will continue to be a valuable guide for judges, court professionals, and related agencies as a premier resource to address reasonable efforts findings in court hearings,” said Joey Orduña Hastings, CEO, NCJFCJ. “Many of our NCJFCJ judges have contributed their insight and experience in our nation’s juvenile courts to help improve their practices and outcomes for children and their families.”
Judge Edwards is a retired judge and a past president of the NCJFCJ who is now a consultant, educator, and trainer. He served as a Superior Court Judge in Santa Clara County for 26 years and then for six years as Judge-in-Residence at the Center for Families, Children & the Courts, a division of the Judicial Council of California. As Judge-in-Residence, he served California’s courts as a consultant specializing in juvenile and family law, domestic violence, drug courts, mediation, judicial ethics, and other issues relating to children and families within the court system.
Judge Edwards is a well-known educator, having taught at the University of Santa Clara Law School, Stanford Law School and the California Judicial College. He has conducted trainings in 48 states and 13 foreign countries and has delivered more than 500 presentations in the U.S.
“Reasonable Efforts” is made possible by the generous support of Casey Family Programs. For more information on the NCJFCJ and “Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective 2nd Edition,” and to purchase a copy from the NCJFCJ, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ncjfcj.org/reasonable-efforts.