Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, November 21, 2001


Page 1


Antonovich, Knabe Planning to Ask for Cost Analysis On Waiting Rooms for Children in Courthouses


By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer


County Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe will ask for a comprehensive estimate next week on what it would cost to install and operate child care waiting rooms in courtrooms around the county.

In similar motions presented to the board yesterday, Antonovich and Knabe ask Los Angeles Superior Court Executive Officer/Clerk John Clarke to determine the actual operating costs of the child waiting rooms and report back to the board in 90 days. The board is to consider whether to support the waiting room pilot project and will vote on both motions at next week’s board meeting.

The waiting room project, introduced to the board by Knabe in July, is aimed at giving the dozens of children who sit for hours in courtroom hallways while their parents take care of court business a place to play, safely away from court proceedings. Many of the parents who bring their children to court cannot afford childcare, Antonovich said.

Similar waiting rooms already exist in Orange, Ventura and Sacramento counties.

“This is an effort to protect the children and secure a place for them away from uneasy situations,” Knabe said.

“The courtroom is clearly no place for children,” he added.

Earlier this month the county Judicial Procedures Commission asked the board to support a pilot project that would put child care waiting rooms in six courthouses around the county, but the actual operating costs of the rooms were not discussed in the report.

Under the commission’s pilot project, Compton, Pomona, Central and Long Beach Courthouses would open waiting rooms in the first phase of the project because of their eagerness to participate and sufficient space to accommodate the rooms.

The Airport and soon-to-be-opened courthouses would follow later.

In an effort to find funding for the project, the commission recommended a Jan. 1 increase in the $194 civil filing fees by $5, the maximum the board is allowed by state codes.

An estimated $2 million a year would be raised if the maximum $5 increase is approved that could fund the project, Deputy District Attorney and commission Vice President Carol Rose said.

But Knabe cautioned that the maximum increase may not have to be adopted for the pilot program to have adequate funding, especially since several of the potential courthouse sites have not yet set aside space for the waiting rooms.

“The full five dollar increase may not be warranted at this time,” Knabe said.

Antonovich’s motion asks that county Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen locate any sources of funding for the program, including state, federal and private funding sources.

The two motions also ask for a detailed timeline on when each courthouse would implement the pilot project. Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company