Child welfare agencies and legal and judicial communities have many common goals and a history of collaboration intended to improve outcomes for children and families. The Federal Court Improvement Program provides funds to State and Tribal courts to improve child welfare and court partnerships, address systemic barriers, and promote equitable practices.
It’s important that all children and youth, biological families, foster or kin caregivers, and trained parent advocates attend court proceedings and are authentically engaged in decision-making. Quality legal representation for children, youth, and families is an important aspect of equitable practice to address disproportionality and disparities because it amplifies the voices of children and youth, protects parent’s and children’s rights, and improves the timeliness of parent-child and sibling visitation as well as permanency.
Child welfare cases are legal cases between a child welfare agency—or a prosecutor—and a parent, parents, or guardian, but they are not criminal cases. The purpose of court hearings is to determine whether children and youth are safe, not to prosecute parents or guardians. Authentic engagement and collaborations among child welfare agencies, the legal and judicial communities, and families can improve outcomes and experiences.
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Judicial, Court, and Attorney Measures of Performance
The Judicial, Court, and Attorney Measures of Performance (JCAMP) were designed to help child welfare professionals and others understand, track, and improve court practices over time.
Beyond the Table: The Need to Work With Courts and the Legal Community to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes
Review the need for courts and the legal community to be involved in child welfare planning and improvement efforts, including the need for representatives from Court Improvement Programs to attend meetings and review or react to decisions made.
Capacity Building Center for Courts
Learn how the Capacity Building Center for Courts designs products to increase awareness, understanding, and engagement among legal and judicial professionals and helps jurisdictions achieve positive child welfare outcomes for children and families.
Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children
Learn about laws that mandate the type and frequency of court hearings held to examine the status of children in out-of-home care. At court, the family issues that necessitated the placement are addressed as well as the efforts to achieve permanency.
Court Improvement Programs: Collaboration Between Child Welfare Agencies and Legal and Judicial Communities
Find information on collaboration and relationship building between the legal and judicial communities and child welfare agencies through the Court Improvement Program, which provides Federal funds to State and Tribal courts to improve practices.
Legal Representation in Child Welfare Proceedings
Find information on legal representation in child welfare proceedings, including child abuse and neglect cases. Learn about the benefits of high-quality legal representation, including how judges can promote it, and explore practices for attorneys.
Redefining Judicial Leadership: Stories of Transformative Practice
Read stories of judges who made a commitment to improve court practice to better meet the needs of children and families in their communities. Find profiles of each judge, learn how they have worked to improve the court, and browse lessons learned. ...Read More
Representation of Children in Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings
Explore laws that specify when a State court must provide legal representation for a child involved in child abuse and neglect proceedings and whether that representative must be an attorney, guardian ad litem, or a court-appointed special advocate.
Tribal Court Clearinghouse
Find extensive information and resources about Tribal justice system issues, Tribal law and codes, Tribal courts, and other issues. The website also includes a training events calendar and resources from all Tribal Law and Policy Institute webinars.
Understanding Child Welfare and the Courts
Discover information about the legal process, including information about different stages of court proceedings, how parents and family members can prepare for court hearings, and who and what to expect in the courtroom and throughout court process.