PRESIDING JUDGE OF NATION’S OLDEST JUVENILE COURT LAUDED FOR
NATIONAL LEADERSHIP IN CHILD WELFARE
IL, DECEMBER, 1998 -- The Honorable Judge Nancy Salyers, presiding judge
of the nation’s oldest juvenile court, located in Cook County,
has been named recipient of the 1998 Award for Leadership in Public
Child Welfare by the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators
"Judge Salyers has been an invaluable ally in Illinois’ efforts
to move children out of the child welfare system and into safe, permanent
homes as quickly as possible," said Governor Jim Edgar. "Her
tireless efforts have helped nearlydouble adoptions in the last fiscal
year and place thousands more Illinois childreninto nurturing environments."
will receive the NAPCWA award on December 6 at the organization’s
annual winter meeting in San Diego. The award is presented to a child
welfare professional exhibiting leadership in the field of public child
welfare and support of public child welfare agency efforts to help families
Salyers’ contributions have resulted in expedited adoptions, a
more streamlined court process and legislation improving permanency
for children," said Illinois Department of Children and Family
Services Director Jess McDonald.
importantly, she has fostered ongoing communication with the agencies
and individuals who work on behalf of children, so that problems may
be ironed out toward our collective goal – the safety and well-being
selecting Salyers, the Washington, D.C. -based organization, representing
city, county, and state agencies providing child abuse prevention, child
protection, foster care, adoption and independent living services to
children and families, noted Judge Salyers’ longtime emphasis on
achieving permanency for wards of the court.
child welfare system represents an important investment in our future,"
said NAPCWA President Ivory Johnson. "Judge Nancy Salyers has made
a real difference in lives, and her leadership, vision, and commitment
have elevated the standards for child welfare. Our nation owes her a
debt of gratitude."
the appointment of Judge Salyers in February 1995, the once beleaguered
Cook County Juvenile Court, which had a docket of more than 40,000 cases,
has experienced a dramatic reversal of its prior uncontrolled growth
to become one of the country’s most dynamic models of justice for
Judge Salyers’ accomplishments is a reduction in the court backlog.
Since 1995, the volume of protective service intake has dropped and
case closings have reached all time highs. In 1994, the court averaged
331 case closings per month. For the first six months of 1998, average
case closings stand at 834 – an increase of 250 percent.
success in case closings is due to Judge Salyers’ emphasis on achieving
permanency for wards of the court and her aggressive stance to terminate
parental rights and seek adoption for children who cannot return home.
Between 1995 and 1997, termination petitions increased 104 percent,
from 2,923 to 5,990. Actual terminations rose 209 percent from 1,210
in 1995 to 3,743 in 1997.
significant increase in adoptions statewide is also credited in large
part to the efforts of Judge Salyers. An all-time high of 2,229 adoptions
was achieved in Fiscal Year 1997, and adoptions nearly doubled in Fiscal
Year 1998, for a total of 4,293. Cook County represents 75 percent of
the caseload of children in Illinois’ child welfare system.
Salyers has been nationally recognized for instituting innovative programs
such as the "Children Can’t Wait" conference bringing
together 200 court and child welfare representatives to collaborate
on how better to assist
a bimonthly forum of private agencies, DCFS and the court, to discuss
mutual concerns; and her own Child Protection Advisory Work Group representing
the court, public and private social service agencies, advocacy groups,
lawyers and universities, to address court practice issues.
am honored to be recognized by an esteemed organization of the best
and the brightest in child welfare," said Judge Salyers. "This
award belongs to all those who have collaborated here in Cook County
to ensure that the entire child welfare community is working together
in the best interests of children. Here in Cook County, we welcome and
expect all stakeholders to be a part of the solution."
to serving as Presiding Judge, Salyers was a trial judge in the Juvenile
and Domestic Relations Division. She also served as an assistant Cook
County State’s Attorney from 1977 to 1992. She is a graduate of
Rosary College and DePaul University’s College of Law.