54,789 youth lived in California's foster care system in January 2022—and according to the California Child Welfare Indicators Project, less than 10% of those kids could be reunified with their families.
As the supervising judge of Santa Clara County's Dependency Court since 2010, Judge Shana Schwarz has seen hundreds of cases involving children in long-term foster care with little hope of ever returning home. But there's always a chance reunification can and will happen if families are supported and given the opportunity to succeed.
On June 5, Judge Schwarz welcomed agencies, advocates, judges, and families in Santa Clara County to the Social Services Agency's Auditorium in San Jose to commemorate Family Reunification Day.
Reunification Day holds immense significance as it acknowledges the successful reunification of families who have faced various challenges and adversities.” -- Judge Shawna Schwarz
Judge Schwarz addressed the audience and thanked parents for "putting in the hard work" to be together. "This event serves as a reminder that when our system performs as intended, children are returned to their parents in safe, stable, and supported homes."
The Santa Clara celebration honored five families who recently reunified. In addition, David Shuster, Dependency Advocate Center Mentor Parent Program Manager, was honored for his role in assisting families reunify.
Resources on Juvenile Dependency Process
The Judicial Council of California is involved in many projects aimed at assisting courts hearing dependency cases. Council staff provide technical assistance, legal information, training, and education to judges, attorneys, and justice system partners.
Staff also produce publications and other resources for court users, including an orientation video about the court process for parents whose children were taken from their care to ensure their health and safety.