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31st Circuit Receives Permanency Award

Wednesday, July 19, 2017  
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SUPREME COURT OF MISSOURI RECOGNIZES 31st JUDICIAL CIRCUIT FOR SUCCESSFULLY HOLDING TIMELY HEARINGS
 
On behalf of the 31st Judicial Circuit, Juvenile Court Administrator Bill Prince 
accepted the Permanency Award, presented by Supreme Court of Missouri 
Judge W. Brent Powell during a special ceremony July 19, 2017, at the Greene County
Judicial Courts Facility in Springfield. This is the fourth time the 31st circuit, 
which includes Greene County, has received the Permanency Award.
 
The Permanency Award recognizes circuits for their excellence in service to
children and families. Award recipients achieved standards for timely
hearings in fiscal 2016 in child abuse and neglect cases in which children
removed from their homes are to be reunited with their families or are to
be placed in another permanent home as soon as possible.
 
“Protecting and ensuring stability for Missouri children who are brought
into our judicial system must be a priority for courts.” Powell said in
presenting the award. “As a former trial judge, I saw first-hand children
come into my courtroom through no fault of their own because they had been
abused or neglected. They needed the court to place them in a safe, stable
and permanent home as quickly as possible.
 
“This award, now celebrating its 12th year, is a testament to the
leadership and hard work of judges, juvenile officers, clerks, children’s
division workers, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and other
support staff who work every day to protect and ensure stability for
children who suffer from abuse and neglect,” Powell said. In the years
since the Court instituted the awards, the timeliness of hearings
throughout the state has increased by an average of 5 percent even while
the number of required hearings has increased 39 percent. Of the more than
52,500 required hearings held in the last fiscal year, 97 percent were held
on time. The 31st circuit was one of an increasing number of circuits
holding 100 percent of hearings on time.
 
The hearing time frames apply to six types of hearings and vary depending
on the type of hearing. For example, when a child is taken into protective
custody, an initial hearing must be held within three business days, the
allegations must be proven within 60 days, and a disposition entered within
90 days.  If the child remains in protective custody, the court must hold
periodic reviews until the child is reunited with its natural parents, is
adopted or another permanent placement is made. These time frames were
developed based on recommendations from the Commission on Children’s
Justice.
 
In evaluating what circuits qualify for the permanency awards, the circuits
first were placed in size classes based on the total number of hearings
that were due to be held during a particular time period. A circuit then
had to achieve either 100 percent timeliness each quarter or an average of
100 percent annually to qualify.  The 31st circuit is one of 19 judicial
circuits to receive the award for fiscal 2016.