Child Safety: A Guide for Judges and Attorneys

American Bar Association Therese Roe Lund, MSSW - National Resource Center for Child Protective Services Jennifer Renne, JD - National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues Foreword- Judges in abuse and neglect proceedings are responsible for protecting the rights of all parties before the court and for ensuring safety and permanency for abused and neglected children. Additionally, the responsibilities must be met in a timely manner by avoiding delays in the court process. All participants in court proceedings play vital roles in achieving positive outcomes for children. Timely decisions are dependent on complete and current information about the children, parents and the specific incidents of neglect and abuse. Each child and parent is unique. So too, are the facts and circumstances impacting on a child's current and future safety. Child welfare professionals must consistently be sufficiently informed and prepared to deal with children and parents as individuals. Thorough, up to date information is critical to sound decisions that ensure the safety and well-being of our children. However, the method by which the information is processed and analyzed is similarly critical. This Guide details a process of critical thinking and analysis that will enhance child safety decision-making. "Business as usual" is unacceptable. The Guide's decision-making framework requires child welfare participants to establish higher standards for information quality and processing. Judges, attorneys, agency workers and CASAs will be well-served by the principles and methodology set out in the Guide. As a consequence, child safety outcomes will necessarily be improved. Honorable John J. Romero District Judge Children's Court Division Albuquerque, NM

 

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