Kin-First Approach

The Bench and Bar need to ensure that:

  • The Courtroom welcomes family members, invites their perspectives and ensures they understand the court process and decisions made.
  • Children, youth, and families are invited, engaged and heard in the courtroom as it is critical to successful outcomes in the case.
    • Judges can engage parents, children, youth and ensure their rights are protected, especially at the first hearing, then continue to inquire on progress of engaging kin at each subsequent hearing.
    • High quality discussion when judges ask:
      • Direct questions
      • Follow-up questions
      • About different topics
      • Expand discussion on topics
      • Relevant questions
    • Judge asking the child/youth’s wish
    • When judges seek parent input during hearings:
      • Child may be more likely to be place temporarily with family and achieve permanency faster.
      • Parents more likely to keep attending hearings.
      • Topics discussed increased when parents attend hearing.
    • Relevant evidence is received to make findings and orders – specify what is needed and how to relay information (oral, reports, additional)
    • Oversight of agency (see list of questions the court can ask – Building Kin-First culture in the courtroom)
    • Relative information sheet