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Children's Waiting Rooms

Providing a safe and positive environment for children whose parents have business before the courts.

The Children’s Waiting Rooms operate in two locations in San Francisco:

Children’s Waiting Rooms also operate a family visiting service to San Francisco Jails #3 and #4.

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Using the Children’s Waiting Rooms

While their parents have business at the Hall of Justice, kids keep busy with art projects.

Photo by Robin Weiner | SF Chronicle

The Civil Courthouse waiting room has a capacity of 15 children, and the Hall of Justice waiting room has a capacity of 8 children at any given time. This is a free service geared towards children of low and moderate-income families. Waiting rooms operate Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm, excluding holidays.

Parents must register the child with the waiting room staff upon arrival and must remain in the building during the visit. Parents should check in on their child during every break period. In emergency situations, the staff can immediately notify the parents in the courtroom. Parents must inform a waiting room staff person of their whereabouts and if relocating within the courthouse. The person that registers the child is the only individual who is authorized to pick up the child.

Through the San Francisco Jail #4 waiting room, CJCJ manages and facilities family visits between inmates and their children, for Jail #4, 7th Floor, and Jail #3, 6th Floor. Visits are conducted on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm, and on Fridays from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, excluding holidays.

For more information about these services, please contact Dinky Manek Enty, at (415) 621-5661 x. 120 or dinky@cjcj.org.

Interested in being an intern or volunteer? Read our description of the internship program and submit applications to Deputy Director Dinky Manek Enty at dinky@cjcj.org.  

History

Together with the Women’s Lawyers Alliance, and with funding and support from the Superior Court of California, the Northern California Service League (NCSL) opened the Children’s Waiting Room in February 1991 in the San Francisco Hall of Justice, out of concern for children who must accompany their parents to the courtroom. It was the first waiting room of its type in the nation.

In January 1998, the second Children’s Waiting Room opened in the San Francisco Civil Courthouse. The waiting rooms provide appropriate, unlicensed childcare services in a safe and positive environment for children, separating young children from the trauma of the courtroom environment and early exposure to the justice system. These two waiting rooms serve approximately 2,800 children per year. On Wednesday, April 7, 1999, the San Francisco Chronicle featured an article about the Children's Waiting Rooms entitled "A Civil Place for Kids."

Additionally, in collaboration with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, a third waiting room opened in San Francisco’s County Jail #4 at the Hall of Justice. This allows youth to visit regularly with their incarcerated fathers in a safe and child-friendly environment. Typically, this waiting room conducts approximately 350 family visits per year.

In July 2011, the Children’s Waiting Rooms were featured in the American Bar Association (ABA) Journal as “A Happy Place.” The article noted that since the establishment of CJCJ’s Children’s Waiting Rooms in 1991, several other California counties have opened similar facilities, and foreign judges use them as a model for their own countries. In the Winter 2011 edition of San Francisco Attorney an article entitled "Small spaces, Big hearts" tells the story of the Children's Waiting Rooms on their 20th anniversary.

Dinky Manek Enty, Deputy Director
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
40 Boardman Place
San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: (415) 621-5661 ext. 120
Fax: (415) 621-5466
dinky@cjcj.org

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