Bexar County continues to be the leader in the adoption of foster children through the development of cutting edge programs and the nationally-renowned, state-of-the-art Children’s Court re-design. Judge Sakai, with the help of a community committed to improving the child welfare system, has created a child-friendly and child-focused court system that gives dignity and respect to all who enter the courtroom. Judge Sakai believes that the court system is the most powerful tool to improve the child welfare system, to empower families, and to ensure that children have permanent, loving, and nurturing homes.
An intensive court model designed to work intimately and early in the life of a child to develop mental and physical health and well-being. The program provides these unique services via community partners specializing in therapeutic models just for infants and toddlers. These families volunteer to work with our court team and specialized providers to help nurture the paternal role that infants need to thrive. Research has shown us that bonding and attachment are paramount in infant and children under the age of three. With continued attachment, children are more likely to be successful in life. Additionally, we prepare the family for early education and introduce them to the Pre-K for SA school system. With this specialized program and collaboration with the education system, families have access to resources within the community for assistance.
Promotes family stability and structure in families with children ages 0-5 years of age.
Promotes education, access to resources, and employment for parents.
Reduces recidivism in the child welfare system.
Participants work weekly with the EIP Court team and specialized providers to develop and nurture parental roles needed to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect as well as domestic violence.
Collaboration with community-based partners and educational systems, including the Pre-K SA system.
Also an intensive court model, working primarily with those parents that have an identified substance abuse issue. These cases come to this court because substance abuse has hindered their ability to properly parent their child or children. Family Drug Court began in 2004 with a public-private partnership and continues to work community partners to help families rebuild a life of sobriety. This court specializes in addiction and helps with strained relationships of the past to restore faith, hope and humanity to family. This court believes in therapeutic justice and helping the entire family. Not only is there support and education for the parents, but also for the children. A unique class, called Celebrating Families, allows the family unit to understand what drugs have done to their family unit. This program allows the child/children to have a voice with the court and their parents about how addiction has hurt them. Working together with a wraparound approach has led to the successful reunification of over 719 children.
Operates at the highest research-based standards and practices that comply with local, state, and federal components for the treatment and services of families in the judicial system.
Increases and promotes family reunification by providing the parents opportunities for employment, improvement of their educational level, as well as parenting skills and knowledge.
Provides participating parents a greater understanding of child development to increase the number of drug-free babies born.
Collaborates and builds community partners to help families rebuild a life of sobriety.
Decreases recidivism in the Child Protective and Justice Systems.
Last year alone, Children’s Court heard over 10,000 hearings within these two courtrooms. These courts allow for children to have a voice and a presence. These courts were designed “through the eyes of a child”. There is a lowered judicial bench, and there is no jury box. Located in the heart of the third floor of the historic Courthouse is a one-of-kind protective room. This room provides security to a child with no interaction from the offender, but still allows the child to have a conversation face-to-face with the Judges and lawyers. Children’s Court is unique that there are two full time Judges solely assigned to hear child abuse and neglect cases. With their specialized training and skill set, the best decisions are made for families. There is continuity of the cases and familiarity not associated with other lawsuits. The Judges are invested in the protection of children and the restoration of families if possible.
Strives for safety and permanency for children in the child welfare system in an effective and efficient manner.
Links children and families with community resources that provide evidence-based outcomes.
Reduces costs within the court system through an improved Docket Management System implemented by the court manager, mediators, and staffings in lieu of court settings.
Collaboration timeline is improved by the engagement level of the non-profit and community-based partners housed in the Bexar County Courthouse. This facilitates accelerated involvement of families in appropriate programs and services.
Streamlines the Family Preservation Docket to provide loving, caring, and safe placements.