Kin-First Courtrooms: Publications

Kin-First Culture

This publication highlights that placement with relatives and close family friends is a child welfare priority when children are removed from their parents. It further presents a 7-step process to create a kin-first culture which includes roles for leaders as well as a guide for judges to build a kin-first courtroom.
This publication highlights the shift of federal law, policy and practice toward a kin-first culture that consistently promotes immediate kinship placements, helps children maintain connections with kin, and tailors services and supports for kinship families. This technical assistance brief compiles promising kinship practices from across the country and includes seven main topics: identification, notice and engagement of kin; placement with kin, licensing, financial assistance and general support for kin as well as permanency with kin.
This factsheet shares the experiences and advice of families who have had relatives in kinship care to highlight the dynamics and steps that can support reunification. It further highlights that placing children with relatives helps to maintain family connections and cultural traditions that can minimize the trauma of family separation and relieve the anxieties that come with traditional foster placement.
This publication defines youth-centered legal permanency, highlights how these permanency options are changing to be more youth-centered, explains how judges can support this youth-centered permanency, includes the brains science research as it relates to permanency for youth, and includes additional resources on youth-centered legal permanency. This publication was developed in consultation with youth and emphasizes that permanency options are shifting to focus more emphasis on kin-based placements and supportive connections with siblings and relatives.

Engaging Youth

This technical assistance bulletin was designed to provide information, guidance, and aspirational practice recommendations to dependency courts and dependency court judges with regard to bringing children to court for hearings related to their own dependency cases. It is the policy of the NCJFCJ that children of all ages be brought to court, unless the judge decides it is not safe or appropriate based on information provided by case participants. This brief includes information on best practice support for bringing children to court, the legal framework supporting children’s attendance at and participation in hearings, and the appendices provide concrete tools which will enable courts to successfully engage children of all ages in the hearing process.
This research article seeks to help professionals and those working with the foster care system to understand the experiences and challenges foster youth face. Understanding ambiguous loss can assist professionals to recognize and understand the unique emotions and behaviors associated with losses that are unresolvable and to use this lens when working with youth and families.
Ambiguous loss—a feeling of grief or distress combined with confusion about the lost person or relationship—is a normal aspect of adoption. Parents who adopt children with special needs may feel ambiguous loss related to what the child could have been had he not been exposed to toxic chemicals in utero, or abused and neglected after birth. Birth parents experience loss when a child is removed from their home. For children placed in foster care, this type of loss tends to happen over and over again, and is incredibly hard to process. To help children better manage these repeated traumas, foster and adoptive parents, as well as child welfare workers, must be sensitive to the role ambiguous loss plays in foster and adopted children’s behavior.
A resource for agencies and the court which includes roundtable discussions with youth with lived experience who say that we cannot achieve successful legal permanency without relational permanency. It highlights that states need to start intentionally exploring how to evaluate the relationships youth already have rather than just focusing on finding legal placement options. This begins with delivering services that allow youth opportunities to develop their existing relationships, and listening to the youth and the families they come from. Courts play a critical role in ensuring that ongoing searches for kin are occurring, that every effort is made to achieve permanency with kin, and that they are provided with the supportive services they need.

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