Child welfare, juvenile justice, and judicial leaderships play a principal role in advancing a kin-first approach in daily practice and as stakeholders, have a profound impact in improving practice outcomes. As child welfare agencies refine their practice to engage in upfront family finding, judicial leadership must also hold the agency accountable in prioritizing kin-first placements and ensuring that children and youth maintain family connections.
- Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Leadership Responsibilities
Our commitment for kin-first culture and relative placement preference:- Recognize and prioritize that the Court is required to consider adult relatives or non-relative caregivers when determining placement.
- Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Directors and Managers will hold all levels of staff accountable for playing their part in kin-first culture.
- Lead with kin-first philosophy and mindset that every child has a family and they can be found if we try.
- Develop and implement policy and protocols that reflect equity for kin placement.
- When kin cannot be an initial placement option, they are engaged or continually supported to have contact and remain involved with the youth.
- Recognize unique circumstances of each family and provide that information to the Court.
- Diligently search for and engage family beginning at the Hotline response and continuing throughout the court proceedings.
-Meet the statutory requirements to provide court with documentation necessary at or before disposition.
-Provide kin information to the court.
- Build a network of support for youth and kin placement.
- Implement emergency placement protocols so kin can be the first placement.
- Eliminate barriers to emergency placement approvals.
-Support kin placement providers with training, resources, financial and strong community support.
-Identify kin at every step of the court process.
-Work collaboratively with court system partners as well as key agency partners to shift practice to kin-first.
- Court and Justice Partners Leadership
Leaders, including judges and attorneys can:- Promote the belief that children belong with and deserve family.
- Send a message that placement with kin should always be first priority.
- Demand that everyone is held accountable for living out the kin-first philosophy.
- Judge must be prepared to hold the agency accountable for identifying and noticing the engagement of relatives.
- Judge can require the agency to use due diligence to identify and engage relatives (early and often) as required by Federal/State law and
-by employing reasonable efforts prevent removal and facilitate reunification tools, the court can ensure agency compliance.
- Work collaboratively to shift practice change.
Judicial inquiry during hearings may influence where a child is temporarily placed during the case and type of permanent home a child receives at the end of the case.- When judges ask questions, more topics may be discussed during the hearing.
- Judicial inquiry is important because greater breadth of discussion could reduce
the time children spend in temporary care and increase the likelihood that a child will reunify with their parents.