Wednesday, November 28, 2001
Board of Supervisors Approves Child Care Waiting Rooms In County Courthouses, Asks for Cost Analysis
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
The Board of Supervisors yesterday agreed to put child waiting rooms with trained staff in courthouses around the county, but the board is asking first to find out exactly it will cost to operate each room.
The child care waiting rooms are to provide a safe place to play for children who are now left in courthouse hallways for hours while their parents deal with court business. The pilot project will put the child-friendly rooms in 14 Los Angeles Superior Court courthouses.
“It’s very difficult during the hearing for these kids to be left in the hallway,” Los Angeles County Bar Association President Roland Coleman Jr. told the MetNews, noting that he had to deal with the issue himself while going through his own divorce.
Under motions presented by Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe, the board asked the county’s chief administrative officer and the director of Internal Services to see how much it would cost to operate the waiting rooms and to find any potential sources of funding for the pilot project. They also asked for a timeline on when the project could be implemented at each courthouse.
The board also asked Los Angeles Superior Court Executive Officer John Clarke to begin questioning vendors on how much it will cost for them to run the rooms. Clarke will report back to the board in 90 days.
Seven courthouses have already been identified for the project: Central, Compton, Long Beach, Pomona, Airport, Antelope Valley and Van Nuys.
Child care waiting rooms are expected to be installed at those courthouses between June 2002 and January 2003, court spokesman Kyle Christopherson said.
An additional seven courthouses will also have the rooms once funding comes in, Christopherson said. Those seven have not been selected yet, but each district will have at least one courthouse with a waiting room, he said. Knabe has volunteered his field office in the Long Beach Courthouse to accommodate a waiting room there.
To pay for the pilot project, the Commission on Judicial Procedures recommended that the board increase the $191 civil filing fee by $5, which would result in an estimated $2 million a year to fund the project.
In a Nov. 15 letter to Knabe, the Los Angeles County Bar Association gave its support to increasing the filing fee up to $5 to fund the waiting rooms.
“We usually don’t support an increase in user fees, but we’re supporting this because we think it’s a very wide benefit for the public to go to court and have their children taken care of,” Coleman said.
But the maximum increase may not be necessary, Knabe spokesman John Musella said.
“We may be able to do it with just a two or three dollar increase,” Musella said. “But the only way to know is to ask the CAO.”
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company