Akila Shenoy


A primary goal of the juvenile-dependency system is the preservation of the family, yet this goal is undermined by the gross disparity in bargaining power that exists between parties and that disproportionately affects poor families of color. This Note argues that the systemic power imbalance within the dependency system that disadvantages parents and is exacerbated by racial and class bias can be ameliorated by incorporating objective criteria into proceedings, moving from an adversarial to problem-solving approach in negotiations, requiring cultural competency that acknowledges disproportionality and its sources, and expanding access to mediation. This Note proceeds in five parts. Part I provides an overview of the juvenile-dependency system. Part II discusses racial and class disparities in juvenile dependency. Part III describes negotiations in juvenile dependency, particularly the parties involved, the way information is gathered and shared, and how race and class impact negotiations. Part IV offers a series of case studies, which are incorporated into Part V to illustrate proposed reforms.



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