Joint program on child welfare
Thursday April 7, 2022 (Friday April 8, for Beijing)
The Dui Hua Foundation hosted a virtual expert exchange on the subject of child welfare laws with China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) and child welfare experts from the United States. The event sought to increase understanding of children’s rights and best practices in the application of law in China and the United States.
This was the eighth collaboration between Dui Hua and the SPC on juvenile justice. It is believed to be the first exchange on child welfare laws in the two countries.
Judges, social workers, and legal experts from both countries shared current protocols for involving children in the legal system with the goal of ensuring their protection. Eight legal experts, four each from the United States and China, delivered presentations on child welfare laws in the two countries. John Kamm, Executive Director of Dui Hua, hosted the event. Retired Judge Len Edwards from Santa Clara, California, moderated the US-focused segment of the event and Dr. Jiang Jihai moderated the China-focused segment.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Jiang Jihai, Director of the Juvenile Office of the Research Department of SPC, gave an overview of the development of child welfare legislation in China and cited Dui Hua’s unique relationship with the Chinese court:
“Since 2008, we have maintained close exchanges in the field of juvenile justice. In the past decade, we have held seven rounds of seminars and discussions, which served as a crucial platform where the courts of both countries shared their experience and learned from each other.”
Panelists from both countries emphasized key concepts for protecting the rights of the child, such as requiring mandatory reporting of abuse for individuals who work closely with minors and employing state removal of a child from family guardianship only as a last resort.
Chinese panelist presentations focused on guardian revocation, judicial processes for cases of domestic violence involving children, recent developments in child protection legislation, and the need for comprehensive protection including social support systems and joint protective mechanisms.
The US panel addressed issues affecting children’s welfare including mandatory reporting, the role of the child protection worker, the right to counsel for both guardians and children in child welfare cases, and the importance of child placement and reunification with parents when feasible. Moderator Judge Edwards has written at length about the value of relative placement for children in foster care.
Kamm’s closing remarks thanked Judge Edwards, who came to Dui Hua with the idea for this webinar in 2021, and “the outstanding team he put together on the US side.” Kamm also thanked Dr. Jiang and “his equally outstanding and accomplished” team. Referencing Dr. Jiang’s opening remarks, Kamm acknowledged his deep friendship with Dr. Jiang and stated:
“We have done eight programs together, six entirely [together] and two jointly with others. That’s eight programs, and I’m looking forward to cooperating more with you Dr. Jiang and your office in the future.”
Despite fraught US-China relations, and the suspension of the US-China human rights dialogue in 2016, Dui Hua’s exchanges with the SPC represent one of the few channels for discussing human rights, including the rights of the child. The two sides are committed to continuing their cooperation.
Howard Himes -Consultant, Former Director of Social Services, Napa County
Howard started his career as an Emergency Response worker in Child Welfare investigating Child Sexual Abuse referrals. Howard progressed up the management levels in Child Welfare and then took over the head role over finance and administration services. In addition, he spent time as the Deputy Director over Medi-Cal and CalFresh eligibility services. He eventually became the Director of Fresno County Social Services and later took on the role of Director for Napa County Health and Human Services.
Howard has developed curricula and trainings in Child Welfare for the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) Bay Area and Central California Training Academies. He has taught graduate courses including Advance Child Welfare Practice, Community Mental Health, Community Organizing and Organization and Community. Howard was also involved in the CAPP and Disproportionality Child Welfare work while at Fresno County.
Judge Roger Chan – Judge, San Francisco County Superior Court
Judge Roger Chan was appointed to the San Francisco Superior Court by Governor Jerry Brown in 2016. He has been assigned to the Unified Family Court since August 2017 where he presides over family, dependency, and juvenile justice trials, as well as the juvenile justice collaborative courts. He is a member of the court’s Executive Committee and previously served as the Supervising Judge of the Traffic and Infractions Division. Judge Chan is a member of the California Judges Association, CJA’s Juvenile Court Judges of California Executive Committee (Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee), the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Judicial Council Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee.
Prior to his appointment, Judge Chan represented children and youth in San Francisco and Alameda counties for 18 years, including co-founding and serving as Executive Director of East Bay Children’s Law Offices in Oakland. Judge Chan has co-sponsored several bills into laws that improve how the juvenile court serves youth. He is a proud alumnus of UC Berkeley and UC Hastings College of the Law. Judge Chan is honored to be the first openly LGBT Asian-American appointed to the San Francisco Superior Court.
Judge Jerilyn Borack – Presiding Judge, Sacramento County Juvenile Court
Judge Borack was appointed to the Superior Court by Governor Grey Davis in June, 2002. Prior to her appointment she was in private practice for 19 years specializing in family law and was a Certified Specialist. Judge Borack has presided over criminal and civil trials, family law and probate matters. She was supervising judge of family law from 2006 until 2008. In 2010 she began an assignment in the juvenile court hearing dependency cases. She remained in that assignment until 2018 when she became the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court. In addition to her administrative duties she presides over the specialized Crossover CSEC Court as well as the newly created, collaborative Juvenile Trauma Responsive Court (JTRC).
During her tenure on the bench she has been active in statewide, court, and community activities. She was appointed by then Chief Justice Ron George to the Statewide Domestic Violence Practices and Procedures Task Force in 2005 and the Elkins Task Force in 2008, and remained an active member of the Implementation Task Force for both of these endeavors. She was a member of the first State Court, Tribal Court Forum. In 2005 she became co-chair of the Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee to the Judicial Council, having served on the committee since 2003. Her tenure as co-chair on the family law side ended in 2010. In 2013 she again became co-chair, this time on the juvenile law side, and continued to enjoy this opportunity to address policy and procedural issues until 2021.
She is active as well in California Judicial Education and Research (CJER). She chaired the Family Law Education Committee in 2006 and 2007, and served as team leader for the family law overview faculty. She co-taught the January juvenile dependency overview course every year from 2013 to 2020, and has also taught numerous courses at the Judicial College as well as several educational institutes and programs. Judge Borack has been a member of the Milton F. Schwartz Chapter of the American Inns of Court, as well as a member, and President, of the Board of Directors of the California Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. She has been a member, and chair, of the Board of Directors of the Sacramento Youth Symphony, and has served on the Board of Directors of Sierra Adoption Agency. In 2018 Judge Borack was honored to be named the Wilmont Sweeney Juvenile Court Judge of the Year.
Judge Marian Gaston – Assistant Presiding Judge, San Diego County Juvenile Court
Judge Marian Gaston presided for five years over a juvenile courtroom in San Diego, California, where she heard cases involving child abuse and neglect. She also presided over a juvenile justice collaborative court dedicated to child victims of sex trafficking. Prior to being appointed to the bench, Judge Gaston worked as Deputy Public Defender representing indigent clients accused of crimes ranging from petty theft to capital murder. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of California at Berkeley in 1996.
Li Chen – Deputy Director, Division of Supervision of Minors’ Protection, Child Welfare Department, Ministry of Civil Affairs
Chen Haiyi – Standing Member of the Adjudication Committee, Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court, Guangdong
Song Ying – Deputy Chief Judge, Juvenile Division, Beijing High People’s Court
Wang Wei – Deputy Chief Judge, the First Criminal Division, Jiangsu High People’s Court