Events: Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative
In September 2005, Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice John V. Hendry, the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHSS), the Nebraska State Court Administrator, the Nebraska Court Improvement Project Director and others attended a nationwide summit in Minnesota, entitled Changing Lives By Changing Systems: National Judicial Leadership Summit for the Protection of Children. The main objective of the leaders behind the nationwide summit was to encourage other states to improve court oversight of cases to reduce delays in order to ensure that children are placed safely and permanently in a timely manner.
At the nationwide summit, the Nebraska leaders, led by Chief Justice Hendry, created a Nebraska State Court Action Plan designed to address the objectives of the summit. The first goal was to induce statewide implementation of best court practices based on the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) Resource Guidelines. This goal would be accomplished through a statewide summit.
The Summit was coordinated by the Nebraska Supreme Court and the Court Improvement Project at the Center on Children, Families, and the Law, with the financial support of the State Justice Institute (SJI) and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services System.
The Nebraska Children's Summit was held on September 25-27, 2006, at the Lied Conference Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska. In attendance were several Nebraska leaders, including Chief Justice John Hendry, Chief Justice Designate Michael Heavican, Governor Dave Heineman, Attorney General Jon Bruning, HHSS Acting Director Chris Peterson, Nebraska State Court Administrator Janice Walker, and Nebraska Court Improvement Director Victoria Weisz, as well as over 200 stakeholders from every district in Nebraska, including:
- All judges with juvenile court jurisdiction
- HHSS Administrators, Supervisors and workers
- Parents' attorneys
- County Attorneys
- Guardians ad Litem (GALs)
- CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates)
- FCRB (Foster Care Review Board) members
The participants were able to listen to several national speakers, including Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Retired Kathleen Blatz, the Honorable William Byars, Director of South Carolina's Department of Juvenile Justice, the Honorable Stephen Rubin, immediate past president of NCJFCJ and lead judge of the Pima County Model Court, and the Honorable James Payne, Director of the Indiana Department of Child Services. There were also training sessions on family drug treatment courts, family group conferencing and mediation, and Title IV-E requirements. An overview of the Resource Guidelines was presented, and there were several sessions that addressed the best practices of specific court proceedings. At several points during the Summit, the local teams met to discuss implementation of the best practices of the Resource Guidelines in their jurisdiction.
On September 27, 2006, the participants of the Summit voted for the new name of this project: Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative.
At the conclusion of the Summit, Chief Justice Hendry directed the teams to return to their communities to develop their collaborative teams and begin implementing the best practices from the Resource Guidelines. Chief Justice Designate Michael Heavican echoed those sentiments and voiced his full support for the Initiative.
Is to conduct research, analyze policy, and provide education and community service. The purpose of CCFL's activities is to enhance the well-being of children, youth, and families.
Children are extraordinarily precious members of society, they are exquisitely alert, sensitive, and conscious of their surroundings; and they are extraordinarily vulnerable to maltreatment or emotional abuse by adults who refuse to give them the profound respect and affection to which they are unconditionally entitled.
- Wisdom of the Elders, quoted in Kids Are Worth It, by Barbara Coloroso, ch. 1 (1994).