May 14 Child and Family Policy Forum: Children Whose Parents Have Experienced Childhood Trauma -- Challenges, Obligations, and Reasonable Efforts for Reunification
Whether parents can overcome the problems that lead to abuse and neglect of their children is the essence of questions surrounding efforts to return children to their parents once legal custody of a child has been granted to the child welfare agency.Consistent with a legal and policy framework protecting parental rights in the United States, the threshold for separating a child from his or her parents is set high, and family reunification is the preferred permanency goal for most children who come into the child welfare system. Despite this policy preference, reunification rates are lower than desired and even when reunification does happen, some children experience subsequent placements.
In this forum, we discussed findings from a Chapin Hall report in which researchers identified a subset of parents involved with the child welfare system who have extensive childhood trauma experiences and face multiple challenges or service needs. These findings have implications for caseworker engagement and service interventions, and they also raise fundamental questions about our obligation and approaches to working with parents, protecting children, and promoting well-being. This forum also discussed changes to policies and practices in the child welfare, legal, and human services fields that may be necessary in order to improve the well-being of this group of children and their families.
May 14, 2013
- Robert Harris, Cook County Public Guardian
- Jill Duerr Berrick, Zellerbach Family Foundation Professor, School of Social Welfare, University of California at Berkeley
- Cheryl Smithgall, Acting Executive Director, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
- Ada Skyles, Associate Director, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
- Presentation Slides
- Parents’ Pasts and Families’ Futures: Using Family Assessments to Inform Perspectives on Reasonable Efforts and Reunification
- Office of the Cook County Public Guardian
In 2006, nearly 100 lawyers, youth advocates, professors, judges and mental health professionals convened at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) to explore the opportunities and challenges of providing legal representation to children at the conference titled, Representing Children in Families: Children’s Advocacy and Justice Ten Years after Fordham.
Following the conference, UNLV published the Nevada Law Journal, Special Issue on Legal Representation of Children, featuring relevant articles and responses. In this journal, Robert Harris, Cook County Public Guardian, wrote, A Response to the Recommendations of the UNLV Conference: Another Look at the Attorney/Guardian Ad Litem Model.
Read his full response at: