Your response to last week's blog on the social worker's role in juvenile justice was overwhelmingly positive but many of you thought that the issues might be better clarified in context. So, let's try to put juvenile justice in some historical perspective.
- During a single year, an estimated 2.1 million youth under the age of 18 are arrested in the United States.
- Though overall rates have been declining over the past years, approximately 1.7 million delinquency cases are disposed in juvenile courts annually.
- Youth are referred to the juvenile justice system for different types of offenses.
- The majority of youth processed through the juvenile court are adjudicated (i.e., declared by a judge to be) delinquent, for most offenses.
Since 1977 when Annie opened on Broadway, theatrical artists have been portraying endangered youth who have experienced both maltreatment and engaged in delinquent behavior like Oliver Twist and Little Orphan Annie.
Oliver! and Annie, two of Broadway’s most iconic musicals, star two children caught between Juvenile Justice and Child Protective Services.
During this national crisis, child welfare agencies are struggling to balance their mission to protect children from abuse and neglect with their duty to protect their workforce. The vast majority of children involved in child welfare cases live at home. Parents are often ordered to participate in certain programs (or requested to do so voluntarily), while caseworkers make regular visits to check on the situation in the home.
With the onset of the corona virus pandemic and the issuance of “stay at home” orders closing schools and businesses in many local communities, child abuse reports have plummeted across the country. The agencies, which provide support for families and children as abuse cases move through the justice system, reported serving 40,000 fewer children nationwide between January and June of this year than the same period last year, from 192,367 children in 2019 down to 152,016 this year, a 21% drop, according to the National Children’s Alliance, an accrediting body for a network of 900 children’s advocacy centers. Reports of abuse have declined dramatically, they say, not because it isn’t happening, but because with everyone “sheltering in place”, teachers, doctors and others have fewer ways of catching it.
OJJDP’s AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program has launched a set of online investigative checklists to help tribal law enforcement respond to and investigate cases of missing, endangered, or abducted children.
As 2019 is now behind us and we look forward to 2020 - we here at Global Vision Technologies would like to express our thanks to all of the caseworkers, foster care parents, healthcare providers and so many others who have taken responsibility for our country’s most vulnerable resource - children and families.
I have seen first hand how having the right human services software can really make a difference in kids’ lives. How kids that are in the system, for whatever reason, can get better treatment, better understanding and a chance to just be kids.
About a year ago, President Trump signed the Family First Prevention Service Act into law. Social workers engaged in child and family care praised the legislation as the first “prevention” measure to help keep children safely with their families and avoid the traumatic experience of entering foster care. The act emphasized the importance of children growing up in families and helps ensure children are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting appropriate to their special needs when foster care is needed.