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Evolution of the Dependency Component of the Juvenile Court

NCJ Number
Juvenile and Family Court Journal Volume: 49 Issue: 4 Dated: Fall 1998 Pages: 17-37
M Ventrell
Date Published
21 pages
This article reviews the evolution of the dependency component of the juvenile court, the component that handles child maltreatment cases.
The historical review covers the jurisdiction of the dependency court, the origins of child maltreatment and protection, the creation of a family law system in 16th and 17th century England, transplanting the family law system in Colonial America, the rise of the parens patriae system in the 19th century, and the development and institutionalization of the parens patriae system in the juvenile court. The author indicates that the modern juvenile dependency process is an outgrowth of early juvenile court dependency jurisdiction and that the current dependency court, grounded in the parens patriae jurisdiction of the early court, has evolved from a system of criminal predictions to a comprehensive child welfare system. As such, the dependency court represents an evolving dependency philosophy in which children are legally protected from child maltreatment to a greater extent than ever before. The greatest challenge facing the dependency court involves the historical challenge presented by competing interests of children and families. 141 endnotes