State Commission convenes
in San Francisco to launch
foster care study
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
March 23, 2006
A new state commission launched a two-year study of California's
foster care system at a meeting in San Francisco today.
California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, who chairs the
Blue-Ribbon Commission on Foster Care, told panel members, "This
commission has an unprecedented opportunity to make a real difference
in the lives of our state's most vulnerable children.''
Moreno noted that California has 97,000 children in foster care
-- almost 20 percent of the nation's entire foster child population.
He said that nationally, a child stays for an average of three
years in foster care and is bounced to three or more homes.
"Youths who grow up in foster care often leave the system
ill-prepared to function successfully in life -- half are unemployed,
a third go homeless and one in five ends up in jail,'' Moreno
Moreno said, "This is simply unacceptable. Our children
are paying a terribly high price, as is society. We have to do
The commission, created by the state Judicial Council, has 44
members, including attorneys, judges, child welfare experts, youth
advocates, legislators and a 16-year-old who is currently in foster
The commission's mandate is to recommend ways of improving accountability,
use of resources and collaboration among agencies and courts in
order to provide safe, secure and permanent homes for foster children.
Among other issues, it will look into the causes and consequences
of court-based delays and make recommendations on how to improve
the ability of courts to move children quickly out of the legal
limbo of foster care.
The commission members were appointed by Chief Justice Ronald
George, who chairs the Judicial Council.
Bay Area members of the panel include University of California,
Berkeley Professor Jill Berrick; former state Sen. John Burton,
who now chairs the John Burton Foundation for Children Without
Homes; Burlingame attorney Joseph Cotchett; and Santa Clara County
Superior Court Judge Leonard Edwards.
Other Bay Area members are Youth Law Center attorney Deborah
Escobedo; Santa Clara County Social Services Agency Director Will
Lightbourne; 16-year-old Anthony Pico of San Francisco; and Marin
County Public Defender Joseph Spaeth.
Moreno told the group in a welcoming speech, "I am simply
amazed at the degree of talent and experience assembled here,
but make no mistake -- we have our work cut out for us.''
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