Date: July 7, 1995
For Release: IMMEDIATELY
Contact: Michael Kharfen, ACF (202) 401-9215
HHS Announces Grants to Strengthen Family Courts
HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala today announced the award of 48 grants to state courts across the country giving states more resources and opportunity to improve court handling of child welfare cases. The grants will go to the highest court in each state and build on family preservation and support efforts already underway. The courts in conjunction with public child welfare agencies are instrumental in making decisions related to children's safety and well-being.
"Children and families are at their most vulnerable in situations involving child welfare agencies and the courts," said Secretary Shalala. "Federal leadership will enable judges and social workers to work together as never before. They will be able to improve procedures and design systems that recognize a child's need for safe, supportive and permanent homes."
The U.S. Children's Bureau, part of HHS' Administration for Children and Families, will administer the grants. The bureau will also work with the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect and the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to encourage closer cooperation between child welfare agencies and the courts.
Also providing assistance in this effort are the National Center for State Courts, the American Bar Association, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Freddie Mac Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation.
The grants, amounting to $5 million this year and an additional $10 million for each of the next three years, will be used to conduct thorough assessments of court strengths and weaknesses in handling dependency, foster care and adoption cases. The grants range from $77,000 to $222,000 per state for fiscal year 1995, and from $95,000 to $798,000 for fiscal years 1996-1998. These funds are divided according to the number of children under age 21 in each state.
"These are exciting new collaborations between state courts and local child welfare agencies to protect innocent children and strengthen families in crisis," said Mary Jo Bane, assistant secretary for children and families. "At a time when states need more support, the welfare reform bill approved by the House of Representatives would abolish this program along with others providing protection for children."
A list of the 48 state court contacts is available upon request.