Judges Attorneys Child Advocates

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Judges, Attorneys or Child Advocates

C​hildren and teens typically enter foster care with a history of acute and often complex trauma that results from child abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence. Judges, attorneys, guardian ad litems (GALs), Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), and other child advocates play an important role in making sure a child or teen in foster care is cared for properly and remains in good health.

Judges need to understand how health, development, placement, and safety affect positive and permanent outcomes for the children and teens who come before them. Attorneys, GALs, and other child advocates must protect the rights and address the needs of their child and teen clients. Managing the child's court case, monitoring his foster home stay and visitation, and advocating for the child's medical, dental, and other health care needs are significant functions of the legal professional working in child welfare. 

While advocating for the best permanency plan for the child or teen, whether that means family reunification, adoption, legal guardianship, placement with a relative or some other appropriate permanency option, legal professionals should always ensure that the health care needs of children and teens in foster care are addressed.

The Council on Foster Care, Adoption, and Kinship Care has created a new resource “Health Issues for Judges to Consider for Children in Foster Care.” This resource provides an overview of important health issues for children and youth in foster care.  It includes downloadable, age-appropriate forms that can be shared with case workers and/or caregivers to obtain, record, and track relevant health information (physical, mental, developmental, behavioral and dental) for a child in foster care in the hopes of obtaining improved outcomes. 

To access additional resources to help educate legal professionals about the challenges and needs of children and teens in foster care, along with hand-outs that legal professionals can pass on to parents (foster and birth) and kin, visit the Resource Library​ and search by the audience "Judges, Attorneys, and or Child Advocates".

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