On September 4, 2012, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors proclaimed the week of September 10th as Los Angeles County 2012 “Family Reunification Week.” Three years ago, Michael Nash, Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Juvenile Court, with the support of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, initiated the first ever “Family Reunification Week.” The annual celebration recognizes the thousands of families that have complied with specific court requirements and safely reunited with their children.
There are three components to this year’s celebration. On Tuesday, September 11th, six “Family Reunification Heroes,” a group of parents, social workers, and organizations that have done an exemplary job in supporting the safe return of children to their homes and families, will be honored with a special scroll presentation by Chairman Yaroslavsky's Children's Deputy Lisa Mandel at the Hall of Administration.
On Thursday, September 13th, a Family Reunification Symposium, “Families First: The Road that Leads Back Home,” will feature Chairman Zev Yaroslavsky, Judge Michael Nash and Philip L. Browning, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The symposium will include a lively panel discussion with parents, caregivers, former foster youth, social workers and court attorneys on pertinent family reunification issues. The most emotional part of the program will undoubtedly be three families sharing their personal stories on how they reunited with their children. Parents in Partnership, a DCFS program that utilizes parents who have successfully navigated the Dependency Court system to reunify with their children and are now coaching other families on how to do the same, will discuss their successful program.
On Friday, September 14th, media is invited to attend a press conference at Juvenile Court where reporters can witness a unique event, similar in format to National Adoption Day, as court officially terminates the cases of eight families whose parents have successfully reunified with their children. These eight families represent over 3,000 families that reunify with their children each year.
“When it comes to reunification, the system actually accomplishes that more often than not. Of the 25,000 plus children under our court’s jurisdiction today, almost 15,000 are either being safely maintained at home or are in a reunification plan with their families. From 2002 through 2011, more than 57,000 children were reunified with their families in Los Angeles County, an average of almost 6,000 children a year,” said Michael Nash, Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Juvenile Court.
DCFS Director Philip L. Browning stated: “We congratulate all parents who successfully reunify with their children. We thank our Board of Supervisors for supporting this week-long celebration, and Judge Nash, the court attorneys, DCFS and all County staff at Juvenile Court, and our many community partners who help parents safely reunify with their children.”
DCFS is a nationally recognized leader in child welfare reforms. DCFS has made significant progress increasing the prospects for safe reunification by implementing innovative programs designed to utilize community-based resources which has resulted in the reduction of the number of children in foster care. Some of the many DCFS programs that support reunification include Parents in Partnership, Family Preservation, Point of Engagement, Visitation Centers, and Team Decision Making
The Family Reunification Week Partners include: the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles Juvenile Court, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers, Inc., the Children’s Law Center of California and the County Counsel’s Dependency Division.
To learn more about the 2012 “Family Reunification Week Celebration” visit our site at: http://dcfs.lacounty.gov/reunitingfamilies