Meaningful and appropriate involvement of youth in their court hearings and case planning greatly benefits all participants and leads to more favorable outcomes for families. To ensure youth involvement in all aspects of court proceedings, systemic changes are needed at all levels. This section offers selected resources on engaging and involving youth in the court process, including State and local examples.
Empowering Youth in Court
Juvenile Law Center
Describes ways to empower youth in court, including having youth speak first during hearings, creating multiple avenues for youth to participate, and informing judges and others of the positive effects of having youth participation in court.
How Adolescent Brain Science Supports Youth Engagement in Court Hearings and Case Planning
American Bar Association Youth Engagement Project (2019)
Child Law Practice Today, January–December
Explores how brain science confirms that meaningfully involving youth in their own case planning and court hearings is important in child welfare cases and leads to more healthy growth and development for the child.
Informing the Court: What Permanency Means for Young People
Explores how one of FosterClub's tools, the Permanency Pact, can be used by the court when working with young people and case planning. The pact can provide opportunities for discussion at different points during the case plan and court hearings and be utilized by judges as a tool through which permanency can be built, even leading up to a court hearing.
Pathways to Permanency: Expanding on APPLA Provisions and Youth Engagement to Improve Permanency (PDF - 225 KB)
Capacity Building Center for States & Capacity Building Center for Courts
Provides guidance related to agency and court responsibilities outlined in the 2014 Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act. This tip sheet defines agency and court responsibilities related to the another planned permanent living arrangement (APPLA) provisions of the act and provides background information on the purpose of APPLA and the importance of youth engagement and voice in permanency planning.
American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law
Presents resources from the Youth Engagement project, including materials, articles, State examples and tools, and other information on youth engagement in court proceedings.
What Do We Know About Virtual Court Hearings?
Casey Family Programs (2020)
Summarizes key considerations for courts moving to virtual hearings to better understand their effectiveness and impact on children and families.
National Association of Counsel for Children
Presents a series of stories from youth and their recommendations for an improved, more engaged court system. The topics covered include the importance of youth voice in permanency, attorney-youth partnerships, youth perspectives on court cases, and things youth wish attorneys knew about working together.
Children's Commission Resources for Youth Engagement in Court Proceedings
Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (2019)
Discusses resources for youth engagement in court proceedings in Texas, including links to learn about videoconferencing. The webpage also includes additional resources to assist judges with engaging children and youth in court.
Involving Youth in Court: Lessons From the States
American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law (2016)
Child Law Practice Today, April
Reviews findings from State assessments of youth engagement in court that showed many youth in foster care want to participate in decisions about their lives, including court proceedings. The article includes examples from New Jersey, Washington, Kansas, Vermont, Delaware, and Colorado.
Youth Engagement in Court Proceedings: Toolkit (PDF - 802 KB)
The Supreme Court of Ohio (2017)
Provides an overview of recommendations and best practices that guide the practice of engaging youth and children in court proceedings. The toolkit also includes a tip sheet for youth to help them become more familiar with the court process and let them know how they may be involved.
Youth Involvement and Engagement in Court (PDF - 206 KB)
New Jersey Court Improvement Program, Children in Court Improvement Committee
Explores New Jersey's efforts to improve youth involvement in case planning and court proceedings through training, strategic planning, and the development of practice tools. It also describes a video series that was launched to help prepare older youth.
Youth Voice in Court [Video]
Texas Network of Youth Services (2018)
Presents a video on the importance of youth voice and youth engagement in court cases. The video reviews the challenges of including youth voice in court, how to support youth voice in court, and links to related toolkits and information.