May 2013Vol. 14, No. 4Children in Dependency Court Hearings
Research shows that children who attend their dependency hearings are more likely to trust the decisions made by the judge than children who have been excluded from such hearings. This topic is the focus of a new technical assistance bulletin from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ).
NCJFCJ recommends that children of all ages be present at dependency hearings unless the judge decides there are compelling reasons to exclude them. Common concerns from judges, as well as solutions to address those concerns, are presented in the brief. Information on best practices for bringing children to court and the benefits of having the child present at the hearing—including providing the judge the opportunity to observe the child, speak to the child, and to ask questions—are also presented.
The brief provides specific policy recommendations for dependency court practice, and the appendix includes a series of judicial benchcards with developmental information to guide age-appropriate engagement of children at hearings.
Seen, Heard, and Engaged: Children in Dependency Court Hearings is available on the NCJFCJ website: