In August and September 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused devastating damage to states along the Gulf Coast. Many judges, court personnel, child welfare workers, and service providers in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana responded heroically. States, most notably Texas, welcomed those families and children displaced from the Gulf Coast. But in the wake of those disasters, questions were raised about the safety and services provided to the children in foster care. Immediate concerns included the destruction of records, movement of personnel and families, issues of confidentiality, and the inability to communicate effectively – all while judges, court personnel, child welfare workers, and service providers continued to work and meet the needs of children and families while facing overwhelming personal and property losses.
With the support of the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a partnership of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), and the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law (ABA) was mobilized to help address dependency court issues resulting from the devastation wreaked by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.