(This is the third in a series of stories on the New Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court.)
The woman who’ll take over leadership of the Iowa Supreme Court says she wants to continue the “Childrens’ Justice Initiative” that’s underway in the Iowa court system. Justice Marsha Ternus says the initiative began in February and is designed to find children in foster care safe homes as quickly as possible.
Ternus says one thing they’re working on is having one judge hear a child welfare case from start to end. She say a judge is better is better informed on the history of the case, than if new judges come in and out of the cases. Ternus says studies show the child welfare decisions are more timely, as the one judge is up to speed on everything in the case. Ternus says another part of the program involves setting up assessments where an expert visits each court district to observe.
Ternus says the observer will then sit down and discuss everything that’s done with the participants, and talk about snags in the system and how things can be done better. Ternus says the assessment is a way to be sure they’re doing what’s best for the children. Ternus says it’s a collaborative effort on identifying how improvements can be made in how a court handles child welfare cases. Ternus says the initiative is not an effort by the courts to take over the child welfare system.
Ternus says they’re just the judicial branch, and they do not in charge of D-H-S, “And we don’t preport to tell them at all how they should conduct their function.” Ternus says the courts are charged with getting the various entities together to address some of these issues. Ternus says the court system has decided to wait until after the November election to move more into the collaborative phase of the program with the Department of Human Services.