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Children in Court Study

The Lancaster County Juvenile Court is currently encouraging children and youth to attend their foster care hearings. In fact, over the past decade, there has been growing support and interest across the country for involving children in their court proceedings. It is believed that including children in the court process, thus giving them a voice, can be empowering for the children. Additionally, their involvement may be uniquely informational for the judge and other parties and attorneys present in the courtroom. The University of Nebraska's (Lincoln) Center on Children, Families, and the Law (CCFL) has completed a study that assessed children's perceptions and attitudes regarding their participation in the court process, and explored the impact of children's participation on the court process itself.

The study included children who participated in their court hearings as well as children who did not. Children were given an opportunity to provide some brief feedback on their thoughts and feelings, and representatives from CCFL also attended court hearings to observe the effect of the children's participation on the process. Within two weeks of each of the observed hearings, representatives from CCFL visited the children in their foster homes, where children completed a brief questionnaire about their experiences with the court system.

Read an abstract of the study results.

Preliminary data was presented at the 2008 Through the Eyes of the Child Regional Conferences, and findings based on the completed study were presented at the 2009 Nebraska Children's Summit.

For more information regarding the Children in Court Study please contact Vicky Weisz

View more information regarding the Court Improvement Project at the Center on Children, Families, and the Law, and all the associated research.