Indian American Administrator Nalini Joseph Named to North Carolina’s Chief Justice Task Force
Nalini Joseph’s passion for protecting children made her a natural fit for the recently-launched statewide task force on adverse childhood experiences-informed courts. (LinkedIn photo)
India-West Staff Reporter
Salisbury, North Carolina, resident Nalini Joseph was named as one of the members of a task force assembled by North Carolina Chief Justice Paul Newby.
The Salisbury Post reports that Joseph has served as district administrator overseeing Iredell and Alexander counties for the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem program for the past nine years. The Indian American held a similar position in Mecklenburg County for the five years prior.
In those roles, Joseph has been responsible for managing several attorneys and dozens of volunteers who serve abused and neglected children by supporting their best interests in court, according to the report.
Joseph’s passion for protecting children made her a natural fit for the recently-launched statewide task force on ACEs-informed courts, the publication said.
The task force seeks to help judges, bailiffs and other members of the justice system understand how adverse childhood experiences, adverse community environments impact children and how the justice system should adapt as a result, according to the report.
Adverse childhood experiences could be anything from witnessing violence to experiencing parental neglect. A child can receive an ACEs “score” based on a simple 10-question quiz that includes questions such as “Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often push, grab, slap, or throw something at you, or ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?” the report said.
The higher the ACEs score, Joseph said, the greater risk the child has for substance abuse, incarceration, domestic abuse, obesity, smoking, drinking and court involvement later in life, according to the Post.
“It all boils down to the fact that we’re spending inordinate amounts of money on a reactive response, instead of a proactive response,” Joseph said in the report. “If we can somehow get these children to address their experiences during their childhood, if we can get them on a path to recovery before they become adults, we have lower incidence of heart disease, diabetes, cholesterol problems and we see less surgeries taking place because of all of these diagnoses which are imbedded in childhood experiences.”
A child who has a high ACEs score is also more likely to interact with the court system, which can be difficult.
“Think about how stressful it is for an adult to testify in court,” Joseph added in the report. “Now think about a 10-year-old child who is in court through no fault of his or her own, who has to testify against a parent or a caregiver that they have known for years. It’s a hostile and adversarial setting, and the ACEs team is working to make our courts as non-adversarial as possible for our victims.”
While Joseph admitted the task force’s strategy is still being ironed out, its intentions are clear, the report notes.
“We know that we want our court system to be more compassionate, be more aware of what ACEs looks like in a child. We know that we want to do that,” she said.
Joseph is one of about two dozen members on the task force and is the only representative from Rowan County. She has been assigned to the educational subcommittee, which will meet over the coming months to discuss ways to improve knowledge of ACEs among members of the justice system, the Post said.
Joseph was born and grew up in India after her father moved there to begin a ministry. After high school, Joseph moved to the U.S. to attend Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology.