Children legal cases get fast tracked in PA

    By: Tom MacDonald

    A new Pennsylvania Supreme Court Ruling is designed to help some of the most serious legal cases involving children. WHYY’s Tom MacDonald reports a children’s advocate says it could shave years off of the adoption process among other things.

    By: Tom MacDonald
    tmacdonald@whyy.org

    A new Pennsylvania Supreme Court Ruling is designed to help some of the most serious legal cases involving children. WHYY’s Tom MacDonald reports a children’s advocate says it could shave years off of the adoption process among other things.

    [audio: reports20090114adoptions.mp3]

    Transcript:

    The State Supreme Court Ruling calls for cases involving everything from adoption to paternity and termination of family rights be moved to a fast track, to ensure appeals from county and state courts move faster. Shelly Yanoff Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth says the expedited process will mean children move into stable home environments faster, which is good for their development.

    Yanoff: “Kids won’t have to wait while adults debate. These new rules will mean kids won’t be waiting and waiting for definitive answers as the court system moves slowly along this says no we have to move quickly because these issues are important.”

    In Philadelphia, fast tracking children’s cases resulted in an over 10 percent increase in adoptions last year. Family Court President Judge Kevin Dougherty says the courts have been fast tracking cases for the past year after being told by state officials they weren’t doing enough to place children in permanent homes.

    Dougherty: “The actual number from family court increased because we are taking into consideration same sex partner adoptions, second parenting adoptions, international parenting adoptions. Our number have increased. Philadelphia is not only above we are beyond because Philadelphia is a diverse city and our concept of family is a heartfelt, loving home.”

    The ruling does not include cases involving visitation, child support and delinquency, but Yanoff says it’s a start and she hopes it’s expanded to expedite every case involving children.

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