Child abuse and neglect court hearings are complex, multifaceted, and necessary for judicial oversight to ensure safe, timely permanency for youth and families involved in the system. While best practices have been suggested, little research has been conducted to examine what the critical components of a “high quality” dependency court hearing are, and, more importantly how these factors might be related to improved outcomes for children and families. The current study explores the relationship between breadth of discussion at the first hearing on the case and subsequent case decisions and outcomes. Findings suggest a positive relationship between breadth of discussion at the initial hearing and a higher likelihood of relative or parent placements compared to foster care placements, increased presence of parents throughout the life of the case, and higher likelihood of case closure and reunification. The study is limited by a small sample size and focus on one of many court hearings; however, it does provide empirical support that the quality of the court hearing may be related to better outcomes for families.
Children and Youth Services Review – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2017
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