Kin-First Courtrooms: Bench Cards

This bench card was the first bench card published while the Enhanced Resource Guidelines were being developed. It is intended to assist judicial officers with this most important hearing by including reminders about who should be present at this hearing (both maternal and paternal relatives, parents, including fathers, half siblings and non-related extended family known as fictive kin). It also includes self-reflective questions the judge can ask to ensure that the findings and orders made are based upon the facts presented while taking into account the family’s culture and unique circumstances. It is intended to prevent biased findings and orders.
These were developed for California Judicial Officers and intended to be a tool to assist courts on the critical issue of ensuring that foster children remain or are placed with a permanent, committed family. These bench cards and appendices can be used by all dependency court stakeholders and include probing questions the court can ask at critical hearings including disposition, status reviews, permanency and post-permanency to ensure agency and social worker compliance and understanding of what evidence is necessary for the court to make these critical findings and ensure youth do not languish in foster care and are engaged in case planning, hearings and permanency decisions.
These bench cards were developed to support judicial officers in their duty to provide comprehensive and timely judicial action in child welfare cases and to encourage best practices. These are designed to be used in conjunction with the Resource Guidelines and the Adoption and Permanency Guidelines and “are not intended to serve an authoritative source, but rather, a resource to inform courtroom practice.” Note: these were issued prior to the publication on the Enhanced Resource Guidelines, NCJFCJ. See: page: 10(3) Relative and/or Kinship Placement. If shelter care determination is made, determine whether there is an appropriate relative willing to take temporary custody of the child, and, if so, appoint that relative [Juv.R. 7(F)(3); R.C. 2151.314(B)(2)

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