ABA Tip Sheet on Remote Child Welfare Court Proceedings

The COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing requirements have required courts to be flexible and creative in continuing to carry out essential functions. The Children’s Bureau has encouraged, and many courts have adopted, the use of technology to conduct child welfare hearings remotely when they cannot take place in-person. Although there are some challenges to holding a hearing via technology, these hearings are essential to address important issues affecting children and families, to litigate and allow the court to make key decisions impacting safety, permanency and wellbeing, and to ensure due process and access to justice for families. The following guide distills some best practices and other recommendations for remote or “virtual” hearings. Please note that courts across the country are using several programs and platforms for video conferencing. This guide provides general guidance without regard to the specific platform being used.