Michelle Barclay is director of the Supreme Court of Georgia’s Committee on Justice for Children at the Administrative Office of the Courts. Michelle and Andy Barclay founded and endowed the Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic in partnership with the Emory University School of Law.
As I drove up to Goshen Valley Boy’s Ranch in the pouring rain with Sue Badeau from Casey Family Programs in the seat beside me at 8pm, I had moments of doubt. I asked James’ case manager earlier in the day, “Is James OK with seeing us tonight?”
“About as excited as a 15 year old boy can be,” she answered, which did not comfort me. When we arrived at the lovely but lonely set of houses set in a wide expanse of woods and views, we were informed that James* had gone to bed, disappointed that we had failed to show way past the agreed upon hour. But he did come out and joined us for a two-hour conversation about his permanency goals. We had gotten permission for Sue to do permanency counseling with James.
I sat in the Fulton County Juvenile Court audience on Saturday, November 20th , with my son and my husband, watching the joyful and moving ceremony of 23 families who were celebrating their adoptions on National Adoption Day . Afterward, I thought about my earlier conversation this past week remembering Fulton’s Terrell Peterson who suffered and died at the age of 5 when he should have been protected by our child welfare system and adopted by a loving family. These two events might seem like they are far apart but they are linked in my mind because November is also the 10 year anniversary of Terrell’s picture on the cover of Time Magazine with the title of “The Shame of Foster Care.” Terrell’s tragic case deeply affected many people. For my family, Terrell was the catalyst of working with Emory University School of Law to create the Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic , for others it was the call to become foster parents , CASAs or mentors.
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office to which I have been elected, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and promulgate the ideals and philosophy of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.” With that solemn oath, Judge Michael Key of Troup County, GA became the new President of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Supreme Court of Georgia Justice P. Harris Hines administered the oath July 20 in San Diego at the organization’s 73rd annual conference. In accepting his new responsibilities, Judge Key spoke about the implications of the new federal law that permits young people to remain in foster care longer, until they reach 21 years. At the same time, the new law has increased the requirements for keeping siblings together.