I-Team: Lawmaker Blames Family Court For Fewer Adoptions

By Colleen McCarty , Kyle Zuelke

Published 10/15 2012 05:10PM

Updated 05/25 2015 02:37AM

Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

LAS VEGAS -- Clark County has consistently had more than 3,000 children in foster care this year. The county's Family Services department seeks some sort of permanency for those children, but the number of adoptions in Clark County is down dramatically this year.

Last year in Clark County, more than 700 children found forever families in adoptive homes, according to the Department of Family Services.

This year, that number is expected to be around 500.

The breakdown in adoptions, according to state assemblywoman April Mastroluca, begins and ends with the family court.

Only one judge is assigned to hear all the cases that determine whether a foster child may be adopted.

Mastroluca said there is a significant backlog in the number of hearings to decide whether a parent's rights are terminated.

Those hearings are off 30 percent over the same time last year.

Currently, Judge Steven Jones is the only judge assigned to those cases and one of just two family court judges who handle child welfare issues.

Mastroluca wants the court to re-allocate its existing resources and assign five judges to handle the cases involving abused and neglected children.

"These kids deserve the chance to move forward with their lives and not sit and wait in limbo because they're waiting on a hearing from a judge," she said.

Jones could not be reached for comment, however his counterpart, Judge Frank Sullivan acknowledged the delays -- many that are out of compliance with state and federal laws.

Sullivan said that although he couldn't speak for the other judges, he agrees that more resources should go to those cases involving permanent homes for children.

On Monday, Mastroluca put in her request for a bill to increase the number of judges handling child welfare cases.

Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.