Welcome to the 4th Judicial District Court

Families in Need of Services

Prevention/Intervention must go hand-in-hand to make a difference in the community. Together, we can empower the community to make a real difference for the most vulnerable among us…our children. *

FINS is now located at the new Juvenile Detention Alternative Center (JADC) at Green Oaks.

Families In Need of Services
Fourth Judicial District Court
4824 South Grand
Monroe, LA 71202

Tel: (318) 327-3415
Fax: (318) 327-5438
kstewart@4thda.org

Kristin Stewart, Director

Among other goals, the Families in Need of Services process is an attempt to conserve scarce public resources and generate new programs by using the juvenile courts’ expertise and leadership in readdressing the root problems of delinquency, child abuse or neglect, and family disintegration.

THE CRISIS
Louisiana is near the bottom of states in rank order on every indicator of family dysfunction...

  • LA ranked 49th in U.S. for adolescents who are both out of school and unemployed
  • LA ranked 47th in U.S. for adolescents who have dropped out of school
  • LA ranked 47th in U.S. for the infant mortality rate****
  • LA ranked 49th in U.S. for percentage of children living in poverty***
  • LA ranked 48th in U.S. for percentage of births to teens**
  • LA ranked 46th in U.S. in percent of teen births to women who were already mothers **

    * Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Plan 2000-2002
    ** www.aecf.org/kidscount
    *** A PRB/KIDS COUNT Special Report: Children at Risk
    **** 2002 Kids Count Data Book


THE RESPONSE
The Families In Need of Services Title is a response to the continuing lack of resources and programs designed to prevent delinquency and child abuse and to strengthen the need for existing families.
Families In Need of Services (FINS) is an early intervention, delinquency prevention process designed to bring together and offer resources and services to help the families of juveniles who are at risk.
This intervention process is a positive effort toward preventing formal juvenile court involvement and to reduce the number of youths in the juvenile court system.

THE MISSION
As an advocate for children and families, FINS exists on…the authority of the court to intervene even though the child is not delinquent and the parent has not violated any duty imposed by the Children’s Code…
The mission of the Louisiana FINS Association is to be a continually progressive organization of FINS professionals and stakeholders existing to:

  • support the law regarding FINS as defined by the Louisiana Children’s Code
  • support the development, growth and continuation of FINS offices by furnishing assistance to FINS professionals throughout the state
  • support the education of the public, service providers, the legislature, and the courts in Louisiana regarding the importance of FINS

THE LAW
…the original premise for jurisdiction was clear: to authorize intervention early in the life of a child who has exhibited defiance of the rules of home, school, or community in order to prevent more serious misconduct in the future, including the violation of criminal laws.
The FINS title is purposefully framed in broad terms to optimize the creation of local processes hand tailored to promote a plan for services.


Purpose of FINS

  • to define self destructive behaviors by the child and conduct by other family members which contribute to the child’s harm and which warrant court intervention in the family’s life so that the appropriate services to remedy the family’s dysfunction can be secured;
  • to secure the effectiveness of the court’s intervention by obtaining the cooperation and coordination of all public institutions or agencies having responsibility to supply services to any member of the family referred to court;
  • to establish a family service plan binding upon all family members and the appropriate service providers;
  • to protect the integrity of the family by authorizing adjudication and the imposition of a dispositional judgment requiring participation in a plan of services only after all available voluntary alternatives have been exhausted.

Who can be helped by FINS?
Any child under the age of 18, a caretaker, or any other members of child’s family, who is alleged to be in need of services

Who and How does one make a referral to FINS?
Families In Need of Services intervention must be initiated by the filing of a written complaint by a caretaker, other adult family member, a representative of an agency having the responsibility or ability to supply services to a family, or any other person authorized by the Juvenile Court (examples: school officials, police officers, district attorneys, judges, treatment facilitates)

When should referrals be made to FINS?

  • if a child is truant or has repeatedly violated school rules
  • if a child is ungovernable
  • if a child is a runaway
  • if a child has repeatedly possessed or consumed intoxicating beverages, or has misrepresented or deceived his age for the purpose of purchasing or receiving such beverages
  • if a child has committed an offense (examples: gambling, cigarettes, etc.) applicable only to children
  • if a child under ten years of age has committed any offense which by an adult would be a crime under any federal, state or local law
  • if a caretaker has caused, encouraged, or contributed to the child’s delinquent behaviors or to the child’s behaviors enumerated above
  • if, after notice, a caretaker has willfully failed to attend a meeting with the child’s teacher, school principal, or other appropriate school employee to discuss the child’s truancy, repeated violation of school rules, or other serious educational problems
  • if a child is found in possession of a handgun or semiautomatic handgun

Who is the FINS Officer?
A neutral person responsible for identifying problem areas and needed services
This person convenes a mandatory conference for the purpose of designing an informal family service plan (IFSP). The job of this person becomes one of monitoring the IFSP to ensure that proper actions are taken, thus improving youth/family’s situation(s).

The Process

1. COMPLAINTS
FINS office receives a written Juvenile Complaint from the parent/caregiver, other adult family member, or personnel of law enforcement, public or private service providers, the child’s school, or other agency approved by the Court.

2. INITIAL SCREENING
An initial interview, including social history and risk screening, is completed through meeting with the child, parent/caregiver, and other family members as needed. Information is gathered from the school and any service agencies involved with the family.

3. FAMILY SERVICES PLANNING CONFERENCE
A Family Services Planning Conference is held with the family and all involved parties (usually referral source, school personnel, and representatives from service agencies), during which an Informal Family Services Plan Agreement (IFSPA) is developed.

4. MONITORING/SERVICE PROVISION
Services are provided by FINS staff or through arrangements with other service providers. Monitoring is conducted by a FINS Monitor or Case Manager through regular contact with the child, parent/caregiver, school personnel, and any involved service agencies. After six months, the case is reviewed, with three possible outcomes:

a.) case closure, with dismissal of the original Complaint,
b.) extension of the IFSPA for another six months, with possible additions and/or revisions,
c.) referral to Court

5. OTHER
Cases are monitored for a minimum of six months and a maximum of one year from the development of the IFSPA. Referrals to Court are made only after all other attempts at resolution are exhausted.


The information contained herein is derived from the Louisiana Children’s Code Handbook 2002