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End most secret courts for children

Monday, March 29, 2010; A18

Your March 26 editorial "A tragedy's questions" asked, "Why are Renee Bowman's adoptions still secret?"

There is an easy fix: D.C. law should be amended to open child welfare proceedings, with judges retaining authority to close some or all of a hearing or record in a child's best interest.

This approach, already in place in many states, balances accountability with privacy. It is also consistent with other court cases involving children, including child custody, domestic violence and criminal cases.

At present, vulnerable children in the foster care system are hidden and silenced. Secret courts endanger children's safety and prevent voters and taxpayers from making informed judgments about this most important of governmental functions.

Matthew I. Fraidin, Washington

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