Child Protection

Youth Participation in Court

Abused children have a say in their future.

In 2011, ACNJ wrote a policy brief urging the implementation of federal and state laws that require children and youth living in foster care be given the opportunity to attend certain court hearings to talk to the judge and lawyers involved in their cases.  Know as the “permanency hearing,”  this is when the state Division of Child Protection & Permanency (CP&P) presents to judge its long-term or permanency plan for the child’s living arrangements. It occurs when a child has been in care for one year and then on an annual basis thereafter, until the child is living in a permanent home.

In 2014 the state Children in Court Improvement Committee (CICIC), which includes representation of all entities involved in child welfare cases, as well as ACNJ, developed the  Youth Participation in Court Protocol which was implemented as a pilot program in 3 counties (Burlington, Essex and Sussex). The feedback from the pilot was very positive.

Read the summary of the pilot surveys.  The protocol is now being used in every county.

ACNJ developed a tip sheet for children and youth about attending court as well as a tip sheet for resource parents attending court.

Click here to find videos that can be used to help prepare children and youth who want to attend their permanency hearing.

For more information contact Mary Coogan at