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BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL Lunch and Learn. Families and Children Engaged in Services (FACES); a reform of the CHINS law January 23, 2013. PRESENTERS. Senator Karen E. Spilka, Assistant Majority Whip of the Massachusetts Senate Nancy Allen Scannell
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BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL Lunch and Learn Families and Children Engaged in Services (FACES); a reform of the CHINS law January 23, 2013
PRESENTERS Senator Karen E. Spilka, Assistant Majority Whip of the Massachusetts Senate Nancy Allen Scannell Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Erin Bradley Children’s League of Massachusetts
THE CHINS STATUTE • First enacted in 1973 the CHINS law decriminalized four distinct juvenile behavior problems: • Running Away • Truancy • “Stubborn Child” • Failure to obey school rules • and Allowed parents , legal guardians, truant officers and police to petition the court for services.
WHAT WERE THE RESULTS? • The CHINS system had successes but it was widely viewed as failing to meet it’s intended goals. • 54.3% of CHINS youth were arraigned for adult criminal offenses or juvenile delinquency offences within three years. Making them 2X as likely to be arraigned after a CHINS Petition than before. • Families were torn apart as parents lose custody of their children during the CHINS Process • Youth held in shackles and in lockup for non criminal offenses
WHAT WENT WRONG? • Families were uninformed about the process prior to involvement • The adversarial nature of the court process • Singular focus on the child • Precipitating behaviors viewed out of context • Practices not standardized • Lack of data collection • Inconsistent availability of services • Inadequate funding levels and failure to systematically integrate resources
SPARKING CHANGE • Multiple Commissions study the effectiveness of the CHINS system and make recommendations for change. • Advocacy organizations file bills to reform the system • In 2005, Senator Karen Spilka, then Chair of the Joint Committee on Children and Families forms a task force to examine the CHINS system. • In January of 2007, Senator Spilka and Representative Paul Donato filed new legislation to reform the CHINS system • The bill was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in August of 2012
Ch. 240 of the Acts of 2012 • An Act Regarding Families and Children Engaged in Services is intended to break down barriers between the juvenile court, parents, and the community, and create a second access point for children to receive necessary services. • The main goal is to steer children away from juvenile justice involvement and support them in safely and successfully living at home and attending school.
MAJOR PROVISIONS • De-stigmatizes the process by deleting the “CHINS” label for children receiving services; • Prohibits children requiring assistance from being arrested, confined in shackles or placed in a court lockup; • Establishes (over three years) community based access to services for youth and their families; • Focuses on the child and family as a unit making parents full and active participants in their child’s proceedings;
MORE MAJOR PROVISIONS • Ensures that the child and family fully understand the procedures by requiring that information be given to parents in writing at the beginning of the court process; • Requires school districts to establish truancy prevention programs as a precursor to a juvenile court referral; • Creates a standardized data collection system to evaluate outcomes and ensure that children benefit from the new system and that resources are being used well.
IMPLEMENTATION • Families and Children Requiring Assistance Advisory Board • Executive Office of Health and Human Services • The Juvenile Court • Department of Elementary and Secondary Education • Legal Services Practitioners • Others
INFORMATION For more Information… Boston Children’s Hospital Maria.Fernandes@childrens.harvard.edu Children’s Mental Health Campaign www.childrensmentalhealthcampaign.org Children’s League of MA www.childrensleague.org