At the Yolo County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, April 25th we continued the discussion of how to best support children in our child welfare system. We know that we have a permanency issue, where Yolo County ranks #48 among California Counties, or an average of 3 years for a child in Yolo County to be placed into a permanent home. This is not okay. In addition to this we have a caseload issue, where each attorney carries a tremendous overburden of 250-300 cases. And finally, we are undeserved when it comes to having effective support resources for families in regard to social services care like the Yolo CASA program.
To address concerns of extended time until permanency, the Board voted 4-1 to send a letter to Yolo County Presiding Judge Janet Gaard requesting that Yolo County Judge Steven M. Basha be removed from his current role as juvenile and dependency court judge. The Board also voted 4-1 to exercise a 170.6 motion against Judge Basha in regard to all child dependency matters based on alleged bias in judicial proceedings. I voted against both of these actions.
I appreciate Supervisor Rexroad’s wisdom and understanding of this very hard and difficult issue on the child welfare system, and I too want to improve the system to better serve our children. It is important to also understand what the law states and the delicate role of the Board of Supervisors in regard to child dependency matters. According to the law, family reunification is the goal in regard to child dependency cases. While the law favors reuniting children with their families that it doesn’t always mean that this is the right decision for every case. Furthermore, as a member of the Board, I personally felt that I didn’t have enough information in regard to Judge Basha’s alleged actions to feel comfortable with moving forward to exercise a call for reassignment and to censor Judge Basha from future child dependency cases at this point in time.
We need to continue to be in dialogue with all the stakeholders and work collaboratively to improve the Yolo County Child Dependency program, most importantly we need to work together to improve child permanency times, as no child should be in limbo for three years or longer.
Watch the 4/25 Board discussion here.
Read the 4/25 staff report and support documents here.
As always, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts on this topic.
In shared service,
Link to Children’s Now report: http://pub.childrennow.org/2016/indicator/permanency/