JPL-2010-38-4-06-Paley, Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in the Dependency Court System: Challenges and Recommendations

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By BLAIR PALEY, PH.D. AND BARBARA E. AUERBACH, J.D.

Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are at a
greatly increased risk for developmental delays, learning disabilities,
and behavioral, social, and emotional problems. High rates of
secondary disabilities have been reported in this population, including
mental health problems, school failure, delinquency, plus alcohol and
substance abuse problems. Long-term outcomes for adolescents and
adults with FASD include increased risk for unemployment, suicidal
ideation and behavior, and confinement in psychiatric facilities and
correctional institutions. Many children impacted by prenatal alcohol
exposure are raised in out-of-home placements, and thus will likely
have extensive involvement with the child welfare and dependency
court systems. However, child welfare agencies and dependency courts
are often not well-equipped to handle cases involving these children.
This article will address the challenges that children with FASD and
their families face in those systems, as well as recommendations for
improvements in how those systems respond to the needs of these
highly vulnerable children.

Season: 
2010
Volume: 
38
Number: 
4
Keywords: 
FASD, youth, courts

BLAIR PALEY, PH.D. is an Associate Clinical Professor in the
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the Semel Institute
for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the David Geffen School of
Medicine at UCLA.

BARBARA E. AUERBACH, J.D. is a retired attorney serving as a board member of the Area I Board for Developmental Disabilities in Northern California.