Kids in Court Program 

“Court for me was really confusing, especially in the beginning. So it was intimidating. Wasn’t helpful that I didn’t understand half the words. A lot felt like everything was out of my control.” -M, age 14

The purpose of the Kids in Court program is to empower youth to be present in court. The program can work with a child or children before, after, and during court proceedings to help them to overcome fears about being in court and to understand what is happening during court. The program employs strategies to assist the court in a youth-focused decision-making process.

 

Problem:                                                                                                    Solution:

Transportation is often cited as a reason that kids are not able to make it to court. The Kids in Court Program can contact parents or caregivers before hearings to ensure transportation arrangements, and may be able to provide one-way transportation upon request.
When kids are in court, they may feel too afraid to speak up. The Kids in Court Program will help to make children feel comfortable through pre-court conversations, clearing the court, using service animals, or encouraging the child to write down what they would like to say beforehand.
GAL’s and Caseworkers surveyed feel that there isn’t enough time to explain the court process to children prior to hearings. The Court Advocate will sit with children during court and can be available before and after to discuss the hearing and how to navigate the court process.
The option to have a child meeting with the Magistrate is an underutilized tool in the Court Attendance Flowchart. The Kids in Court Program, upon request of the GAL, can help to set up child meetings with the Magistrate.
Kids can be intimidated by the court setting itself. The Kids in Court Program can provide tours of the courthouse.

 

To find out more about the Kids in Court Program email Zephyr at zephyr@vfccasa.org