Children and Families
-- Families In Need of Services (FINS)
Court continues to focus on and improve the justice system
for families and children in the state.
in Need of Services (FINS) Assistance Program, under
which the Judicial Administrator's Office manages the funds
provided by the legislature to assist local FINS processes.
A sort of 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
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. FINS provides a unique opportunity for
early judicial intervention to prevent delinquency and child
abouse. The FINS process is designed to identify and integrate
existing service providers, connect families to needed services,
to promote the establishment of new services or programs where
gaps in services have been indentified.
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
In June 1999, in reponse to the LSUOSSRD study and at the
request of the legislature, the Louisiana District Judges
Association, and the Louisiana Council of Juvenile Judges
(LCJFC), the Louisiana Supeme Court accepted responsibility
for administrative program oversight of FINS.
- Linking Children and Families to Needed Services
implement the recommendations of the study, the Court created
the Families in Need of Services Assistance Program (FINSAP)
within the Judicial Administrator’s Office. Since creation
of FINSAP, 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 continous
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 FINSAP 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; 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
50 other judicial district offices participate in the Families
in Need of Services Assistance Program and serve more than
14,000 families. In addition to monthly allocations, more
than 70% of FINSAP participants have requested and received
funding for enahancements 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-deliquent behavior.
The Supreme Court accepted the statewide administration of
FINS because it recognized the importance and great benefits
to be realized by the program. At the request of Louisiana
Supreme Court Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr.; Justice Catherine
Kimball is directly overseeing the FINS program on behalf
of the Court. Working closely with Justice Kimball and the
Court is Deputy Judicial Administrator for Familes and Children,
Kären Hallstrom and Project Coordinator, Lynette
The Families in Need of Services (FINS) became effective in
all courts having juvenile jurisdiction on July 1, 1994, as
Title VII of the Louisiana Children’s Code. This title
of the Children’s Code represents a substantial consolidation
of former proceedings known under the Code of Juvenile Procedure
as Children in Need of Supervision [CINS] and Parents in Need
of Supervision [PINS]. The Families in Need of Services [FINS]
process is designed to permit the juvenile court to return
to its original role of coordinating community resources to
assist and reinforce the family in an effort to prevent delinquency
and family disintegration. FINS goals are to reduce formal
juvenile court involvement while generating appropriate community
services to benefit the child and improve family relations.
How Does FINS Work?
- Submit a written complaint to the FINS program alleging
a family is in need of services. ChC Article 731
- Anyone may file a complaint. Most common, however,
law enforcement, school officials and parents make referrals.
The complaint must allege at least one of the grounds
listed. ChC Article 731
- Grounds for such a complaint include the following:
ChC Article 730
1. Child is truant or has wilfully and repeatedly violated
lawful school rules
2. Child is ungovernable
3. Child is a runaway
4. Child repeatedly possessed or consumed intoxicating
beverages, or that he has misrepresented or deceived his
age for the purpose of purchasing or receiving such beverages
from any person, or has repeatedly loitered around any
place where such beverages are the principal commodities
sold or handled.
5. Child committed an offense applicable only to children.
6. Child under 10 years of age committed any act which
if committed by an adult would be a crime under any federal,
state, or local law.
7. Caretaker has caused, encouraged, or contributed to
the child’s behavior under this Article or to the
commission of delinquent acts by minor.
8. After notice, caretaker wilfully failed to attend meeting
with child’s teacher, school principal, or other
appropriate school employee to discuss child’s truancy,
the child’s repeated violation of school rules,
or other serious educational problems of the child
9. Child found incompetent to proceed with a delinquency
10. Child found in possession of handgun or semiautomatic
handgun under circumstances that reasonably tend to exclude
any lawful purpose.
- Complaint Filed - Family meets with FINS Intake Officer
who conducts an initial interview, often referred to as
an Informal Family Conference or Mandatory Conference.
Child is asked to complete an assessment to help identify
behavioral, substance abuse, mental health and other problems.
ChC Article 743
- Family completes an Informal Family Service Plan Agreement
(IFSPA), including among others, the identification of
the conduct of the child, caretaker, or any other family
member causing serious harm to the child and the services
needed by that individual to reduce or eliminate the problems
within the family unit. The IFSPA also includes a description
of the services which are needed, the availability of
services, and a plan for ensuring that any such services
that are available are secured and delivered. The duration
of the initial IFSPA is six months, with a maximum duration
of 12 months. The family is expected to cooperate with
efforts to resolve its problems as recommended by FINS.
ChC Article 744
- Non-compliance. If recommendations are not followed,
FINS may refer the family to court, a FINS conference,
and/or a hearing before a judge. If a hearing should happen,
each and every member of the family shall be subject to
the jurisdiction of the court. Ch CArt. 745
- Children and families have the opportunity to access
services that are targeted to properly address the underlying
causes of pre-delinquent behavior.
- Following an extensive interview to assess the unique
needs of each family, a family service plan is developed.
- Compliance with the service plan is monitored by FINS
staff and other designated individuals for a maximum of
six months without further judicial order.
- An IFSPA shall not be considered an adjudication. The
child and family are not brought before a judge/court unless
there is failure by family members to cooperate with the
mandates of the service plan.
- FINS is an informal process designed to focus on the
family unit, rather than just the child. FINS goals are
to promote early intervention and help facilitate the receipt
of needed services, rather than imposing a punishment.
Every parent, every grandparent, every teacher, preacher,
leader, and citizen must commit to save our children. If our
children thrive, the nation thrives. If our children fall,
American falls with them.
- Marian Wright Edelman
to Related Associations:
Louisiana FINS Association
Truancy and Assessment
Service Centers (TASC) Information
District FINS Directory
information about the FINS program, please contact:
FINS Project Coordinator