Guide to Funding Options for Court Facilities
Waiting Rooms in Courthouses for Minor Children: California Government Code 26826.3. It is the policy of the state that each court shall endeavor to provide a children's waiting room in each courthouse for children whose parents or guardians are attending a court hearing as a litigant, witness, or for other court purposes as determined by the court; and would provide that to defray that expense, in any county having established a children's waiting room or that elects to establish such a service, the board of supervisors may, after giving notice and holding a public hearing on the proposal, impose a surcharge of not less than $2 and not more than $5 for the filing of specified pleadings, motions, and papers in superior court.
Standard of Judicial Administration in California Rules of Court: Sec. 10.24 Children's Waiting Rooms. Each court should endeavor to provide a children's waiting room located in the courthouse for the use of minors under the age of 16 who are present on court premises as participants or who accompany persons who are participants in court proceedings. The waiting room should be supervised and open during normal court hours. If a court does not have sufficient space in the courthouse for a children's waiting room, the court should create the necessary space when court facilities are reorganized or remodeled or when new facilities are constructed.
Sec. 1.3 adopted effective January 1, 1987. Gender and Justice: Implementing Gender Fairness in the Courts, Implementation Report, Judicial Council of California Advisory Committee on Access and Fairness, Gender Fairness Subcommittee (July 1996).
Children’s Waiting Rooms: Sixty-seven California courthouses have children’s waiting rooms. The following county superior courts have Website links to child care programs:
Alameda Superior Court , Hayward, California. The first Children’s Waiting Room (CWR) in Alameda County opened in July 2004 at the Hayward Hall of Justice through donations from the Women Lawyers of Alameda County (WLAC) and a First 5 construction grant. A local muralist transformed the Children’s Waiting Room space into a “Friendly Forest” motif that offers up to 14 children ages infant to 16 years a safe and secure place to wait while their parent or guardian is conducting business in the Hayward courthouse. The Children’s Waiting Room makes it possible for siblings to stay in the waiting room together rather than be separated because of age differences. An area within the room is also set aside to accommodate nursing mothers.
Fresno County Superior Court
, Fresno, California. The Mario Olmos Children’s Waiting Room is situated in two separate Courthouses (Main Courthouse and Dependency in downtown Fresno), and is staffed by YMCA personnel and trained volunteer aides. It is available to children whose parents are conducting court business in any of the nearby Court facilities.
Northern California Service League , San Francisco, California. The Northern California Service League and the San Francisco Women Lawyers Alliance operate respite childcare for children of persons conducting business in court. The Children’s Waiting Rooms are located inside the San Francisco Hall of Justice and the new San Francisco Civil Courthouse. The rooms are designed to offer respite childcare and family support and intervention, and to separate young children from the trauma of the criminal, juvenile, and domestic courtrooms. The Waiting Rooms are staffed by the coordinator, a staff aide, and carefully screened volunteers. Caregivers provide a snack for each child and as much individual attention as possible.
Sacramento Superior Court , Sacramento, California. Since 1985, the Sacramento Superior Court has provided Children's Playrooms at their main facilities. These playrooms provide child-centered play environments for both child witnesses and the children of customers who are engaged in on-site business with the court. The Children's Playrooms are operated by court staff and community volunteers, who are trained to interact positively with the children, making the children feel welcome and safe. The Court currently maintains Children's Playrooms at three locations: the Downtown Courthouse, the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse, and the Carol Miller Justice Center.
San Diego Family Justice Center
, San Diego, California. Court Visitors may bring children with to the Family Justice Center. There are specially designed waiting rooms just for children with access to coloring books, toys, videos, computer games, stuffed animals and much more.
San Mateo Superior Court , Red Wood City, California. The San Mateo Superior Court has Children's Waiting Rooms for litigants, jurors, and children waiting to testify in court at the Hall of Justice and the Juvenile Branch. The service is free of charge and there is no time limit to using the facility. Rooms are staffed by contract employees from a local family services agency. In three years, the Children’s Waiting Rooms have served approximately 4,000 children.
Santa Clara County Superior Court , San Jose, California. The Notre Dame Courthouse maintains a child care facility that is available for court users while they are conducting business with the court. Child care is free of charge for children ages 2-12 for up to four hours. The facility can serve a maximum number of six children at once.
Siskiyou County Superior Court , Siskiyou County, California. The Siskiyou County Superior Court offers a voucher childcare program that gives assistance to parents with childcare needs when attending to court business. A voucher pays up to three hours of childcare when parents are conducting court business. Up to two vouchers may be requested in any given month. The parent selects the provider from participating, licensed childcare providers.
Ventura County Superior Court , Ventura, California. Children's Waiting Rooms are available for court users while they are conducting business with the court. The rooms are open while courts are in session, but they may also be used while attending mediations, completing forms in the self-help centers, or conducting other business in the court. The waiting rooms are staffed by a court employee and volunteers, and toys and video equipment were donated. Children have to be at least 2 ½ years old and potty trained to stay in the Children's Waiting Room. Children are signed in and out to protect their security.
Family-Friendly Courts Act . The Family-Friendly Courts Act specifies that the state court administrator, in determining which judicial districts may receive grant moneys for the provision of family-friendly court services, shall consider the extent to which a judicial district is responsible for specified aspects of providing child care and other family services for persons attending court proceedings.
The Act requires the judicial districts selected by the state court administrator to implement a method of evaluating the effectiveness of the family-friendly court program and assessing the impact of the child care and informational services provided and to report annually to the state court administrator concerning the evaluation.
If the state court administrator selects a judicial district to provide family-friendly court services that include child care services, the Act requires the family-friendly court program in the judicial district to meet the licensing requirements for child care facilities.
This amendment removes the July 1, 2005, repeal of the "Family-friendly Courts Act".
Approved by the Governor and effective on June 2, 2005.
Denver County Court Denver, Colorado. The Denver Warm Welcome Court Child Care Center is a facility created to provide high quality child care in a safe, secure setting while the child's guardian conducts business with the civil or criminal justice system. This is a free service provided for anyone involved in a court matter, including plaintiffs, defendants, and jurors.
El Paso County District and County Courts, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Court Care for the Pikes Peak Region was established in 2003 as a non-for-profit organization to provide child care for children whose parents or guardians have court related business. Court Care serves the Fourth Judicial District and Colorado Springs Municipal Court and is managed and operated by the Child Nursery Centers. Since its inception, Court Care has served thousands of area children and families.
The Child Care Center provides a safe, clean environment with a friendly, warm, and caring atmosphere where children can "learn through play." The center provides an opportunity for all children who attend to participate in creative and stimulating activities in language arts, math, science, social studies, music appreciation (listening skills), drama (puppet shows), and arts and crafts. Special emphasis is given to the development of the child's fine motor skills through the use of age-appropriate manipulative games, puzzles, crayons, and handwriting practice.
Elementary and junior high age children have an opportunity to develop their reading comprehension and creative writing skills as well as to participate in creative arts. All children have the opportunity to share and cooperate with each other and adults through games and activities. Since the length of the stay for children in the center varies, the program is very flexible.
Many Federal agencies sponsor on-site child care centers for their employees. Agencies are authorized by 40 U.S.C. 490(b) to provide, free of charge for rent or services, space for child care centers on the conditions that: (1) space is available; (2) child care services will be provided to a group of individuals of whom at least 50 percent of the children enrolled in the center have one parent or legal guardian who is a Federal employee; and (3) priority for available child care services will be given to Federal employees.
Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Family Division
, Miami, Florida. The Court Care Center provides a safe, short-term drop off location for children whose parents/caregivers are involved in official court business at Courthouse Center. This program is staffed by trained and certified YWCA staff members.
Orange County Courthouse
, Orlando, Florida.
A Place for Children’s
goal is to provide on-site, safe, high quality child care for families with official court business while ensuring linkage to available social services. A key component of A Place for Children is that it serves as a link between much needed social services and the high-risk families who could use these services. It is hoped that linking families with needed services may break the cycle of repeated visits to court and that A Place for Children will provide a vehicle for reaching out to individuals with information about the community services to which they and their families are entitled. As of January 2, 2002, A Place for Children will provide free child care for people who have been summoned for jury duty.
The Loyola Children's Center at
Maywood also offers free medical and childlife programs. The center is jointly staffed by pediatric social work specialists and a childlife specialist from Loyola University Health System along with court personnel. Free health screenings by the Loyola Mobile Medical Unit Van are available on Friday afternoons.
Kane County Judicial Center
, Geneva, Illinois.
To reduce the impact on court proceedings and the potential trauma experienced by young people, efforts were launched by the Kane County Bar Foundation to identify a place in the Judicial Center to serve as a Children's Waiting Room, similar to facilities offered in other nearby county court houses. Thanks to the cooperation of the Circuit Court judges and the Kane County Board, space in the ground floor-level of the Judicial Center was set aside for construction of the Room.
In 2002, the Bar Foundation began a formal fund-raising drive. By July 2003, nearly $70,000, enough to pay for the construction of the Waiting Room, furnishings, and other start-up costs, were raised from local law firms, community groups, and individuals. Operating costs for the Room are met by a five dollar-per-case filing fee assessed against civil cases in accord with state law. The Children's Waiting Room provides free, short-term, drop-off supervised care for as many as 20 children, from infants to age 12, of persons with business in the
Judicial Center or the Third Street Courthouse.
Lake County Courthouse
, Waukegan, Illinois.
Kids’ Korner is a waiting room for children in the Lake County Courthouse. Its mission is to provide a safe and fun waiting area to children who are in the courthouse to testify in court or whose parents or guardians are conducting court business. Kids’ Korner is a bright, cheerful room filled with toys, blocks, puzzles, art supplies, books, and other developmentally appropriate materials for children. The waiting room serves children ranging in age from 2 to 12 years old in a comfortable and secure setting. Children do not need to be toilet trained, and a diaper changing station is available for use with diapers and wipes provided. The facility can care for 9 children at a time.
Each child visiting Kids’ Korner chooses a book to take home as part of the Give a Book program. The Give a Book program hopes to encourage parents to read to their children. Books are provided through donations from community organizations and individuals.
Additionally, the Robert W. Depke Juvenile Justice Complex/ Minard E. Hulse Juvenile Detention Center in Vernon Hills features a court waiting lobby with an unsupervised children’s play area.
Peoria County Courthouse children's waiting room opened in October 2008.
Lake Circuit Court
, Lake County, Indiana.
The Lake Circuit Court has a Children's Room with toys and games for children who must be at court while parents are in court. The court received a 2006 grant from the Indiana Bar Foundation to hire two part-time day care providers who will provide free supportive childcare services to children whose parents must appear in court. The Lake Superior Court, family division, is also in the process of establishing a similar room.
Campbell County Family Court, Newport, Kentucky. There is a Children’s Waiting Room available.
Carter, Elliott, Morgan County Family Court, Grayson, Kentucky. The Children’s Waiting Room is open during court sessions.
Clark & Madison County Family Court, Richmond, Kentucky. A Children’s Waiting Room is available as needed.
Franklin County Family Court, Frankfort, Kentucky. The Children’s Waiting Room is open Monday through Friday.
Hardin County Family Court, Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Kid Zone is open during all times that Family Court is in session. All children going into Kid Zone are required to be accompanied by an adult.
Henderson County Family Court, Henderson, Kentucky. The Children’s Waiting Room is available by appointment.
Henry, Oldham, & Trimble County Family Court, LaGrange, Kentucky. The Oldham County Courthouse has a Children’s Waiting Room that is open only as needed.
Jefferson Family Court, Louisville, Kentucky. The Children’s Waiting Room is staffed by volunteers from the Exploited Children’s Help Organization (ECHO). ECHO is a non-profit volunteer organization committed to reducing the incidence and trauma of child victimization and exploitation. The Children’s Waiting Room provides children with a safe, low-stress, fun place to wait while their parents attend court. The waiting room is filled with toys, books, and games to help pass the time. This provides the volunteers the opportunity to offer the children nurturing attention. Children benefit by having this room because they are not required to wait in crowded tension filled public waiting areas. The waiting room is open during the dependency, abuse and neglect dockets.
McCracken County Family Court, Paducah, Kentucky. The Children’s Waiting Room is available during all court hours for an adult family member or friends of the parties in court to stay with the children.
Pike County Family Court, Pikeville, Kentucky. The Children’s Waiting Room is open Monday through Friday.
Rockcastle, Lincoln, & Pulaski County Family Court, Somerset, Kentucky. The Children’s Waiting Room is available during regular court days and when appropriate supervision in available.
Warren County Family Court, Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Children’s Waiting Room is open Monday through Friday.
, Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
The Family Waiting Room in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County is a safe place for kids to wait. The room provides games, toys and activities within a colorful, friendly environment. This project is for the community and its services are not available for use by the courthouse personnel, staff attorneys or jurors.
In 2000, the board of directors of the Anne Arundel County Bar Foundation saw a great unmet need in the courthouse and decided to financially support the Family Waiting Room as a service to the community.
, Dorchester County, Maryland.
The children's waiting room is open during the days when civil domestic and paternity cases are being heard. The room is adjacent to the courtroom. There is a bathroom attached to the children's waiting room for convenience to the waiting parties and their children. While it is not mandatory that waiting litigants use the children's waiting room, it is strongly suggested so that small children are not required to be quiet in the courtroom while court is in session. A parent or an adult is required to be with the children at all times. The Family Support Services Coordinator purchased toys, puzzles, reading and coloring books, small tables and chairs, building legos and a television and VCR for a children's waiting room. The room to be utilized as the children's waiting room also needed to be repainted.
Currently, court child care centers are operating at the Hampden Court Complex in Springfield, the Middlesex Court Complex in Cambridge, the Fenton Judicial Center in Lawrence, the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston, the Roxbury District Court, the West Roxbury District Court, the Dorchester District Court, and the Fall River Trial Court. Provider contracts were recently awarded this year for centers at the Chelsea District Court and Brockton Trial Court. These programs are expected to begin providing court child care in the fall of 2000. Additional centers are in design for new courthouses to be built in Plymouth and Worcester.
The Project is based on an innovative, highly successful, collaboration between the court system, the Office of Child Care Services, social service agencies, criminal justice agencies, academia, and the bar. A network of advisory committees at the state-wide and local levels inform and advance project development. An in-depth court child care program evaluation study recently completed by the University of Massachusetts Lowell indicated that when properly funded, court child care and the collaboration upon which it is based, is highly effective and beneficial to the courts and clients receiving service.
See also, Courtcare: Planning Child Care for the Courts. Massachusetts Trial Court Child Care Project (HV854 .C68 1995).
Chelsea Trial Court Children`s Center. Chelsea District Court, Boston, Massachusetts. The Trial Court Child Care Project provides drop-in child care and support services to families while they are conducting court business. These centers improve the administration of justice by reducing child-related disruptions and delays, protect the safety of young children brought to courthouses, and help court-involved families. All enrolling parents and guardians are informally offered outreach, support, parenting and child-development information, and an opportunity to observe trained professionals model effective ways of interacting with young children. Court child-care administrators and social workers also connect families with social services that specifically address their needs.
Fall River District Court, Fall River, Massachusetts. The Fall River Trial Court's Children's Center is free of charge to families involved in any court proceedings at the Bristol County Juvenile Court, Bristol Probate and Family Court, Fall River District Court, Bristol Superior Court in Fall River and the Southeastern Housing Court (all of which are housed in the Trial Court building or are nearby). The drop-in center has been serving a monthly average of 135 children, newborn to 12 years old, since it opened.
Fourth Judicial District,
State of Minnesota. Reimbursement of Daycare Expenses for Jurors: This program is provided for people who do not usually need child care but do need it in order to serve on jury duty. The idea is to make it possible for more people to serve. The basic requirements are:
, Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Clark County Family Law Self-Help Center has a children's play area. It contains books, toys, and other activities to keep children occupied while the parent completes the paperwork. The parent must be in the Center at all times to supervise the child.
Reno Municipal Court
, Reno, Nevada.
The new facility will house the Reno Municipal Court and the Washoe County District Attorney and is scheduled for ground breaking in early March with a move-in date slated for September 2005. The new courthouse will focus on customer service. The design includes ample public waiting areas, as well as childcare facilities and separate secure waiting areas for domestic violence victims and witnesses.
New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Minority Concerns
, 2000-2002 Report , “Establishment of Children’s Waiting Rooms,” p. 58.
Passaic County Court
, Patterson, New Jersey.
Since 1995, the Passaic County court system has had an affiliation agreement with Memorial Day Nursery to provide, on an as needed basis, child care services to children of parents attending a court proceeding. Any parent/guardian who is a court client and wishes to have their minor child (ages 2-6) cared for while they are in court may use this service. Child care is a service provided free of charge to court clients.
NORWESCAP Child & Family Resource Services
is the state sponsored non-profit child care resource and referral agency for Sussex, Warren and Hunterdon counties. The agency has been around since the 1960's with LBJ's war on poverty. Visitors are given resources and contacts in the community that they may not be aware of, along with the free child care.
Children’s Centers in the Courts, Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children. Recognizing both the need for a "safe haven" for children in the courts and the opportunity to reach out to New York's most vulnerable children, the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children spearheaded the creation of a statewide system of Children's Centers. The coincidence of need and opportunity gave rise to a unique partnership resulting in the nation's only statewide system of cheerful, welcoming Children's Centers in the courts. Thirty Children's Centers operate in New York's courts providing a two-pronged service to the children and families the courts serve:
A Good Place for Children: A Guide to Starting, Building and Operating Children's Centers for New York's Courts
- The Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children (HV854 .G66 1996). Please contact the commission directly for copies of this publication.
Safe Horizon’s Assistance in the Courts Program, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island, New York. Safe Horizon operates over 30 court-based programs throughout the five boroughs. These programs include victim/witness reception centers, supervised visitation programs, mediation services, advocacy, crisis intervention, help with court-ordered restitution, and other legal issues. Safe Horizon operates ten centers in the five boroughs. Both children and adults benefit from Safe Horizon's Children's Centers, which provides:
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure (Title 42), Chapter 37, Section 3721.
Statute provides that a county judicial center or courthouse may provide a child-care facility for use by children whose parents or guardians are present at the county judicial center or courthouse for a court appearance or other matter related to any civil or criminal action where the person's presence has been requested or is necessary. The child-care facility must be located within or easily accessible to the county judicial center or courthouse. If the facilities of the county judicial center are located at multiple sites, each site may provide a child-care facility.
Criminal Court, Allegheny County Courthouse; Jane B. Lobl Children’s Room, Juvenile/Family Court; Municipal Court
, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Section of the National Council of Jewish Women operates three children’s playrooms in the courts to provide a safe, stress-free place for children to play while their parents attend to court business. The service is free for children of all ages and is staffed by volunteers that meet the Pennsylvania clearance requirements.
Montgomery County Court Care
, Norristown, Pennsylvania. The Montgomery County Court Care is a free, licensed drop-in child care center operated by the Montgomery County Commissioners at the One Montgomery Plaza Building. The facility was established to provide a safe, secure, child oriented environment where families can comfortably and confidently leave their children while they attend to their court related business.
Regional Justice Center
, Kent, Washington. The Jon and Bobbe Bridge Courthouse Drop-In Child Care Center is located in the Regional Justice Center, Kent. WA. The Courthouse Child Care Center, operated by Children's Home Society of Washington, provides drop-in child care for children from 4 weeks of age through age 12. Only parents who are at the Regional Justice Center on official court business are eligible for child care services. The purpose of the center is to protect children from the stress of courtroom proceedings.
Up to 2 children of jurors can be cared for; for a limit of 2 days. Unfortunately, the children of attorneys and courthouse personnel cannot be accepted. A $5 fee is asked, if parents are able to pay. If not, donations are gladly accepted. No child will be turned away because a parent is unable to pay.
The Courthouse Child Care Center is a locked facility due to custody issues, protection orders, etc. Parents should allow about 10 minutes to fill out an enrollment form and get matching, numbered wristbands for themselves and their children. A copy will be made of parent/guardians' photo ID.
Children are served a nutritious snack in both the morning and afternoon, and a wide-range of developmentally appropriate activities are available. The children can choose from games and puzzles, blocks, the housekeeping area, dolls, trucks, books and artwork. Story time is also a daily event.
Seattle Justice Center
The new Seattle
Center provides a children's waiting room for children of defendants and witnesses.
Spokane County Courts
The Spokane County Domestic Violence Consortium opened the Children's Waiting Room on June 16, 1997 after two years of planning in collaboration with the Spokane County Courts, related departments, Casey Family Partners and Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery. The facility is staffed by two full-time staff of the Consortium and is able to accommodate up to eight children between the ages of one and twelve years during the hours the courts are open. Although families are served on a first-come, first-served basis, parents involved in intimate partner violence-related business are encouraged to make reservations for their children for priority placement. To ensure safety for children involved in intimate partner violence, the facility is equipped with security buttons. Intake procedures include not only emergency contacts, but descriptions of the perpetrator, when applicable.
The goal of the Children's Waiting Room program is to protect children from witnessing the harrying events of the courtroom and reliving the traumatic home experience, as well as to empower victims of abuse with children to seek remedies to ensure their safety and the safety of their children.
Objectives related to this goal include: 1) providing a safe, nurturing, non-violent environment to 1,000 children per year whose parents are attending to court matters, 2) providing fun, educational activities which encourage children to forget about their anxiety and fear, 3) recruiting and training 20 community volunteers per year to provide compassionate and appropriate care to children, 4) providing one-on-one care for anxious children by volunteers and staff, and 5) creating community awareness about the program and services available.
Family Court, Raleigh and Ohio County Courts, West Virginia. West Virginia’s established a new family court system January 1, 2002. The Supreme Court of West Virginia used federal funds to create model "children’s waiting rooms" in family court facilities in Raleigh and Ohio counties and to produce Visiting the Courthouse: A Kids Guide to the Courts of West Virginia. The Supreme Court is using another $100,000 federal grant to create or expand "family visitation centers," which provide a safe environment for parents to drop off or pick up children for visitation.