On behalf of the 26th Judicial Circuit, Presiding Judge Kenneth M. Hayden, Judge Stan Moore and Chief Juvenile Officer Tammy Walden accepted the Permanency Award, presented by Supreme Court Judge Paul C. Wilson and Deputy State Courts Administrator Karen Messerli during a special ceremony Friday afternoon at the Camden County Courthouse in Camdenton. This is the seventh time the 26th circuit, which includes Camden, Laclede, Miller, Moniteau and Morgan counties, has received the Permanency Award.
The Permanency Award is given to circuits for successfully holding timely hearings during fiscal 2012 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.
“Timely hearings are critical when children are removed from their homes and are to be reunited with their families or are to be placed in other permanent homes as soon as possible,” Judge Wilson said. “The nature of these cases can make it very difficult to hold timely hearings unless the officials involved exert strong and continuous efforts to do so, and those courts that achieve the highest success deserve recognition for their difficult achievement.
“The success this circuit has achieved is a testament to the leadership and hard work of judges, juvenile officers, clerks, children’s division workers and other support staff,” Wilson said. In the six years since we have instituted the awards, the timeliness of hearings throughout the state has increased. Of the more than 41,000 required hearings, 98 percent of them were held on time. This is an increase of six percent from 2006, when we instituted the award.”
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 rank among the top two in its size class to qualify. The 26th circuit is one of 19 judicial circuits to receive the award this year.