Using Storytelling to Achieve a Better Sequel to Foster Care Than Delinquency


California’s child welfare system is failing its mandate to serve its neediest children. A significant portion of the 60,000 foster children that California cares for are dually involved with the dependency and delinquency systems. Children who have suffered abuse or neglect severe enough to be removed from their homes are more likely than well-treated children to come into contact with thedelinquency system and possibly lose their dependency status in favor ofdelinquency status. For the young person for whom the state has taken on the parenting role under the dependency system, the blow of delinquency status is significant because of the resulting loss of the “parent” and the concordant services and rights that the “parent” has afforded. This article advocates that we use applied legal storytelling principles to direct more attention to the foster child’s character, voice, and viewpoint to allow formal, earlier intervention at the phase where the child is at risk of delinquent behavior so that delinquency has a better chance at being avoided. By invoking applied legal storytelling concepts to focus child welfare advocates on children’s unique narratives, this article suggests that we consider a new framework to help solve the present foster care to-delinquency cycle to better serve foster young people and their communities.

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