DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 9: Court Related Issues
9-7  Attendance at Hearings by Video Telephone Call
Court Related Issues
9-7 Attendance at Hearings by Video Telephone Call (Teleconferencing)
Reference Points
Overview
General Information about Teleconferencing
In What Settings Can Teleconferencing Be Used
Court Procedures for Authorization for Teleconferencing
Department Laptop Computer
Instructions for Using Skype
Children's Attendance at Hearings


Reference Points
Effective Date: 1/19/11
Last Updated: 2/1/11
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code  § 349
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
MS Word Application for Appearance by Video Telephone Call (JV2018)


Overview  

On a very limited basis, children and parents can “attend” uncontested Juvenile Dependency Court hearings by means of a video telephone call (“teleconference”) to the courtroom using Skype, a free software application that allows a user with Skype to make free video calls over the Internet to other users who have Skype.  This is a new use of technology; hence, the best use of teleconferencing will evolve as it is applied in child welfare practice.   

Teleconferencing may be particularly valuable when the parent’s or child’s location is geographically distant from Santa Clara County.  For example, rather than the Social Worker driving a long distance to pick up a child to attend court, which often involves two round trips to the placement and back, the child can attend the hearing by teleconference via a computer at the placement or a local child welfare office or by using the Agency lap top available for Social Workers to check out.  Social Workers are expected to remain with the child or parent during his or her appearance at the hearing via teleconferencing.  Social Workers do not have the option of leaving the Agency lap top computer at the placement facility for use by facility staff and child.  Using teleconferencing can allow the child to substantially continue his or her normal activities, while saving the Social Worker valuable time. 

Another valuable application of this technology may be to facilitate inmates’ attendance by teleconference.  In those situations, the correctional facility must have a computer with Skype that is available for the inmate’s use.  The Social Worker could have a role in facilitating the logistics for the call, such as providing correctional institution staff contact information for the court staff who will be receiving the teleconference call.

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General Information about Teleconferencing  
  • Appearance by teleconference should be used sparingly. 

  • Teleconferencing is not intended for contested hearings.

  • Appearance by teleconference must be authorized by the court.

  • Social Workers or any attorney initiates the request for a child to attend by teleconference.

  • In all circumstances involving a potential for a parent to attend by teleconferencing, the Social Worker should refer the parent to his or her attorney to discuss the matter.
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In What Settings Can Teleconferencing Be Used  
  • The court rooms of Judges Lucero, Schwarz, and Guerrero-Daly have been set up with lap top computers capable of making and receiving Skype video calls.

  • Many Foster Family Agencies and Group Homes have or might be willing to obtain Skype in order to host the child’s participation/attendance at a hearing via teleconferencing.  Other alternatives for making a computer with Skype available for teleconference attendance by the child include the Social Worker taking a lap top equipped with Skype to the child’s placement or using another county’s facilities and computer with Skype to place the teleconference call.

  • Some California prisons have computers with Skype.
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Court Procedures for Authorization for Teleconferencing  

The party requesting that an appearance be made by video telephone call:

  • Completes the Application for Appearance by Video Telephone Call (JV2018). 

  • Notices  all  parties to the case at least 24 hours before submission either by phone, fax or email. 

  • Completes either the DFCS form SCZ 170 or form JV 2000, each entitled Declaration re: Notice of Ex Parte Application. 
    • Included on the notice form must be the responses received from other counsel on the case.
  • At least 72 hours before the hearing at which the video telephone call is requested, submits the application and notice to the courtroom clerk in the Department where the hearing is scheduled to occur.
      • An original and one copy must be submitted. 
      • The clerk will file the original and provide the copy to the judge.

 

If any objection to the use of video telephone call has been made by any party, that issue will be heard by the court on the date the hearing is scheduled to occur.   If the court grants the request for the video hearing, the court will go forward with the hearing at that time.  If the court denies the request for the video hearing, a brief continuance may be granted to arrange transportation of the party.

The court and all parties understand that this procedure will be used sparingly and is not intended for contested hearings.

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Department Lap Top for Use with Skype   A lap top computer with Skype is available to be checked out from Executive Assistant Kathryn Pedroza or one of the other Administrative Assistants in the DFCS Administration office area on the 5th floor of building 2 (373 W. Julian).
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Instruction for Using Skype   Instructions for obtaining the Skype application and how video calls are made and received using Skype are available at the web site (http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/home/), and specifically the video call page at http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/features/allfeatures/video-call/.
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Children's Attendance at Hearings   Effective January 1, 2009, Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 349 was amended to emphasize the right of any child who is the subject of dependency proceedings to attend court hearings, especially if the child is age 10 or older.  The juvenile court is complying with the new statutes, ensuring that all children are advised of their right to attend court hearings, as well as continuing any hearing where the child wanted to attend but was not transported.  Counsel for the child is required to make the decision whether the child will attend the hearing or not.  Additionally, attorneys for the children are required to personally interview any child age 4 years or older. [WIC § 317 (e)]
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