Thursday, December 28, 2017

Announcement of PDA Annual Conference Keynote Speakers

Hello Parental Defenders-

We are incredibly excited to announce that the keynote speakers for this year's Annual Conference will be Vivek Sankaran, J.D., and Christopher Church, J.D., M.S. The title of their presentation will be "Sparking a Revolution of Values: How Family Defense Lawyers Can Use Data, Stories, and Advocacy to Change the Child Welfare System's Approach to Families."

The work both Professor Sankaran and Mr. Church do to advance the cause of parental and family rights on a national scale is nothing short of inspiring. In order to give you an insight into the quality and tenor of their work, I'm attaching a link to an impressive article they recently co-authored, entitled "Easy Come, Easy Go: The Plight of Children who Spend Less Than 30 Days in Foster Care." You can find the article here. It explores the real and lasting harm inflicted on children who are removed from their parents for less than 30 days, while critically examining the data associated with these removals. The ultimate conclusion reached by Professor Sankaran and Mr. Church is that too many children are being subject to this extreme intervention, resulting in exposing those children to unnecessary harm.

Thoughtfully, Mr. Church has provided the following updated data demonstrating how Utah compares to national averages for short term foster care stays:

For children removed during 2016 FFY (Oct 1 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016),*
  • Just over 23K were discharged within 30 days of their removal, which is 9% of all children removed
    • In Utah, it was about 210 kids, which is 10% of all children removed in Utah (so slightly above the national rate)
  • Most of those kids (71.5%) were placed in an unfamiliar environment, with 19.3% placed in a congregate setting (shelter, group home, etc.)
    • In Utah, it was only 55% placed in an unfamiliar environment, with very little reliance on congregate settings
  • Nearly all (91%) of these children are discharged to a family member after their brief stay in care.  That is similarly true in Utah (81%).

There are a few counties that seem to have higher rates of short stayers (Cache at 18%, Uintah at 25%), but most are right in line with state rate (Salt Lake, e.g. at 11%). 

We strongly recommend you take an opportunity to review the full article. Having command of this data can help us all more clearly articulate arguments on our clients' behalves and be more effective advocates. 

Registration for the Annual Conference will open soon! Priority registration for those with current contracts will open on January 3, 2018, and General Registration will open on January 17, 2018. We look forward to seeing many of you in April!

*Data utilized in this article were made available by the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN), Cornell University, Ithaca NY; and have been used with permission. Data from the AFCARS dataset are originally collected by the state’s child welfare agency pursuant to federal reporting requirements. Staff at Fostering Court Improvement have analyzed the data and analyses are on file with them. Neither the collector of the original data, the funder, the Archive, Cornell University, or its agents or employees bear any responsibility for the analysis or interpretations.

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