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SoCal Connected Granted Exclusive Access Inside LA's Dependency Court Exposing the Devastating Effects of Budget Cuts on LA's Foster Children

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New Episode
airs March 16 at 9 p.m.

Angeles, CA - March 9, 2012 - This week
SoCal Connected presents an exclusive
in-depth report on a side of our justice system rarely seen on television.  SoCal Connected
gained unprecedented access to L.A. County's Dependency Court, where thousands
of Foster children are awaiting decisions that will impact their futures. For
the first time television cameras have been allowed inside the court, revealing
the tremendous overcrowding, delays and backlogs that frustrate thousands of
families. We see the overwhelming caseloads that judges, attorneys, and social
workers carry; how additional budget cuts threaten to bring the justice system
to a near standstill; and how the system often works against families trying
desperately to stay together or be re-united.

Then, in our continuing series on care giving, Your Turn to Care, SoCal Connected profiles Sonia Alvarado, who
must make heart wrenching decisions about her elderly mother diagnosed with


Los Angeles County's Dependency Court is the largest in the
nation, handling 25,000 children. For the first time television cameras were
granted access, revealing in graphic detail how deep budget cuts are devastating
our justice system and putting our most vulnerable citizens at risk.  We profile Judge Amy Pellman who is scheduled
to hear 33 family cases in six hours, sometimes deciding a child's fate in as
little as three minutes. We meet parents who have completed counseling programs
and are hoping the judge will grant them custody of their son. But other
parents are stuck, unable to get into overcrowded programs that are required in
order to get their children back.  

We see how judges and attorneys often learn the facts of a case
only minutes before the case is heard; how attorneys who are supposed to
represent 160 children are burdened with 240 cases. More delays and backlogs
are inevitable as 300 layoffs and 50 courtroom closures are scheduled to occur
in L.A. County, following a statewide $650 million slash in funding. California
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakaueye says "I think its devastating to be told to come
back in four months and that we'll hear your case on child custody. What's a
person to do in four months?"

The justice system budget cuts will also affect the three million
people who come through the L.A. Superior Court every year for everything from traffic
tickets to divorce filings. In some cases trials are stretched out, held for
one day a month over the course a year.

The "Courting Disaster" episode airing on March 16th was
produced by Karen Foshay. The correspondent is Jennifer London.


In our continuing series on the challenges of care giving, we
profile caregiver Sonia Alvarado, a woman who recently put her 78-year old
mother in an assisted living facility. Although the family has promised to keep
their mother at home through her old age, they were caught unexpected with a
diagnosis of Alzheimer's. After their mother wandered away from home, they had
to reconsider their promise. Through Alvarado, the piece explores the complex
emotional and financial strains a caregiver must navigate when seeking help
from institutions, elder care professionals and attorneys. It can be an
especially costly if the loved-one doesn't have long term care insurance or
qualify for government assistance.  The
producer is Margie Friedman.

SoCal Connected airs Friday, March 16th
at 9 p.m. with encore airings Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30

Executive Producer of SoCal Connected
is Bret Marcus. Co-Executive Producer is Justine Schmidt. Anchor is Val Zavala.

About SoCal Connected

SoCal Connected, winner of the
Peabody and duPont-Columbia awards, 14 Emmy® Awards, 15 Golden Mikes, 18 LA
Press Club Awards, the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best News Documentary and Los
Angeles Magazine's "Best New Local TV Program" of 2009, airs Fridays (9:00
p.m.), with encores Saturdays (6 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.), Sundays (1:00 p.m. - 1:30
p.m.) and (6:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m.)  and
Mondays (10:00 p.m.- 10:30 p.m.) exclusively on KCET. For more information, to
view episodes online or to post comments, please visit http://www.socalconnected.org

SoCal Connected is made possible
through the generous support of The Ahmanson Foundation, serving the Los
Angeles community since 1952; Jim and Anne Rothenberg; The Maddocks-Brown
Foundation; The Elizabeth Hofert-Dailey Trust; The John Randolph Haynes &
Dora Haynes Foundation; The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
and UCLA.

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