The Third Branch
Initiative to reduce children in out-of-home care
Judges and court staff gathered for a Judicial Engagement Initiative meeting in Kenosha County on Oct. 31, 2014. Pictured, left to right: Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Anthony G. Milisauskas; retired Judge Patricia FitzGerald, a consultant for Casey Family Programs; Kenosha County Circuit Court Judges David P. Wilk and Jason A. Rossell; and Bridget Bauman, director of the Children’s Court Improvement Program.
By Bridget Bauman, CCIP Director
Wisconsin is one of eight states selected to participate in the Judicial Engagement Initiative through Casey Family Programs. The project is being piloted in Dane, Kenosha, and Monroe counties.
The goal of the Judicial Engagement Initiative is to engage the judicial system to support children remaining safely in their homes, timely exits to permanency, full consideration of well-being, and compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act in child welfare proceedings.
Casey Family Programs, in partnership with a team of judicial and attorney consultants from the National Center for State Courts and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, provides court-focused resources that support the use of best practices to safely reduce the number of children in out-of-home care.
In addition, Casey Family Programs assists the selected sites to utilize and integrate court/child welfare data to better inform and effectuate systems change.
“Wisconsin has demonstrated a strong commitment to improving outcomes for children in foster care, and we are delighted at the opportunity to work with Wisconsin judges and court teams to achieve our common goals,” said retired judge Patricia FitzGerald, a judicial consultant from Casey Family Programs.
“Given the insight and dedication of your judges and the great work already done in Wisconsin, I am confident that working together in 2015 we will develop and implement successful strategies for safe reduction of the numbers of children in care,” said FitzGerald, who visited Kenosha County for an initiative meeting late last year.
Multi-disciplinary meetings will continue to be held in all three counties, where the court and other child welfare stakeholders discuss concrete ways to meet the goals of the initiative, implement action plans, and measure the effectiveness of their efforts. The Children’s Court Improvement Program will work closely with Casey Family Programs and the three pilot sites to monitor the Judicial Engagement Initiative and institute changes at the state level based on the information obtained as a result of the project.