Title

Families with Service Needs: The Newest Euphemism

Author granted license

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1979

ISSN

1531-0183

Publisher

University of Louisville

Language

en-US

Abstract

Juvenile court jurisdiction over "status offenders" - juveniles engaging in noncriminal misconduct such as truancy, running away, and "incorrigibility" - has become the subject of national debate. Most participants in the many-sided discussion agree that the system needs reform. The major disagreement, however, is between those who wish merely to reform the court's jurisdiction over this conduct, and those who would substantially eliminate it. This article concerns the newest reform proposal: to revise status offense jurisdiction under a new category entitled "Families With Service Needs" (FWSN). Proposed in 1977 by a federally funded task force, 5 the FWSN concept has been endorsed by the influential National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. One may therefore expect state legislatures to view the FWSN proposal as a model for reform.

This article will review the developments in juvenile court status offense jurisdiction leading up to the FWSN proposal. It will then describe and critically analyze the proposal, arguing that its adoption would not substantially improve the present system. To the contrary, its adoption would dangerously expand the juvenile court's power to intervene in family life. The proposal also raises important questions about the judiciary's proper role in allocating public services. These questions deserve careful study before states consider adopting the FWSN model.

Comments

The Journal of Family Law changed its name to the University of Louisville Law Review.

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