The Court continues to focus on and improve the justice system for families and children in the state.
Families in Need of Services Assistance Program (FINS-AP), the program under which the Judicial Administrator's Office manages the funds provided by the legislature to assist local FINS programs. A type pre-delinquency intervention, FINS provides interagency social work services to assist children and families, often signing contracts for school and family progress in lieu of court adjudication. The FINS Assistance Program has developed a needs-based allocation formula, a uniform data system for tracking, managing and reporting FINS informal cases, programmatic standards, performance indicators and measures, and periodic fiscal reports.
Family in Need of Services (FINS), a legislatively created type of juvenile court proceeding, was enacted into law upon passage of the Louisiana Children’s Code in 1991. The FINS title consolidated former Child in Need of Supervision and Parents in Need of Supervision jurisdiction as Title VII of the Code. FINS became effective in all courts having juvenile jurisdiction on July 1, 1994. In addition to formal court procedures, an informal process was added in which the court, through a court-appointed intake officer, facilitates the establishment of a voluntary family services plan between the family and the providers of needed services. The FINS process provides a unique opportunity for early judicial intervention to prevent delinquency and child abuse. The FINS process is designed to identify and integrate existing service providers, connect families to needed services, and to promote the establishment of new services or programs where gaps in services have been identified.
Legislative funding for FINS began in 1995 by an appropriation made through the Children’s Cabinet of the Governor. In 1998, the legislature requested a study by the Louisiana State University – Office of Social Services Research and Development (LSU-OSSRD) for equitable distribution of funds for the administration of FINS throughout the 41 judicial districts, in accordance with Louisiana Performance Audit laws. The LSU-OSSRD study reported that development of uniform standards is integral to the concept of equitable distribution. In addition, the study emphasized the need for centralized program and financial management, uniform data collection, centralized data analysis, and statewide accountability for FINS.
In June 1999, in response to the LSU-OSSRD study and at the request of the legislature, the Louisiana District Judges Association, and the Louisiana Council of Juvenile Judges (LCJFC), the Louisiana Supreme Court accepted responsibility for administrative program oversight of FINS.
FINS-AP - Linking Children and Families to Needed Services
To implement the recommendations of the study, the Court created the Families in Need of Services Assistance Program (FINS-AP) within the Judicial Administrator’s Office. Since creation of FINS-AP, the Supreme Court has taken many steps needed to bring FINS into compliance with the Louisiana Performance Budgeting Act. More important, the Court has made continuous efforts to improve the administration of FINS and work with individual districts to effectively identify and help link Louisiana families to needed services.
In keeping with the mission of FINS-AP to manage funds provided by the legislature for assisting local FINS processes, developments have included a need-based allocation formula; a uniform data system for tracking, managing and reporting FINS informal cases; programmatic standards; development; performance indicators and measures; case assessment and evaluation, and periodic fiscal reports and financial responsibility; and general supervision of and assistance to local FINS offices in other ways.
Currently the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court and more than 55 other judicial district offices participate in the Families in Need of Services Assistance Program and serve more than 7,000 families. In addition to monthly allocations, more than 70% of FINS-AP participants have requested and received funding for enhancements including computer upgrades and technical assistance. During the next phase, the Supreme Court will continue its efforts to develop and implement reforms that will provide children and families with opportunities to access services targeted to properly address the underlying causes of pre-delinquent behavior.
The Supreme Court accepted the statewide administration of FINS because it recognized the importance and great benefits to be realized by the program. Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson is directly overseeing the FINS program on behalf of the Court. Working closely with Chief Justice Johnson and the Court is Deputy Judicial Administrator for Families and Children, Kären Hallstrom and FINS-AP, Judicial Program Manager, Lynette P. Adams.
What is FINS?
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For more information about the FINS program, please contact:
Lynette Adams, JD
FINS-AP Judicial Program Manager
District FINS Directory
Truancy and Assessment
Service Centers (TASC) Information