Four Ways That Courts Can Actively Engage Children and Youth Involved in Child Welfare Proceedings

Children and youth often have little or no power over important aspects of their lives that are impacted by court involvement. Court professionals need to engage authentically, meaningfully, and directly with children and youth to determine what they want and which options will work best for them and their families.

Children and youth who are involved in child welfare proceedings are not always able to communicate fully what they need. As a result, engagement strategies need to be tailored to each individual’s age and level of development. Following are four ways that court professionals can engage children and youth of all ages authentically and can ensure their involvement in all decisions being made about their lives.

Professional talking to a child in a friendly environment


Use court hearings as opportunities to build a relationship with children and youth.


Create a child-and-youth-friendly court environment.


Create opportunities to engage children and youth between court hearings.


Partner with people who have lived expertise to create a court process and an environment that promote success.

Professional with a teen

How professionals can use this report:

Knowing busy professionals don’t always have the opportunity to identify tools that could help them upgrade their work with children and youth, each section contains meaningful insights and practical actions that professionals working in courts can take to engage and empower children and youth at the most critical milestones of their lives. Because the report contains many resources, teams can divide the sections and assign different members of the team to review that section and report back.

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