Informing Decisions about Visitation and Family Time for Court-Involved Families with Young Children

The Center for Children & Youth Justice, in partnership with Seattle University School of Law’s Early Brain Science and Best Interest Decision-Making Educational Series, is identifying next steps toward creating developmentally-appropriate Family Time/Visitation guidelines for Washington State courts.

During August 2012, the Center for Children & Youth Justice and Seattle University School of Law convened a group of thirty-three community leaders to discuss how to better apply the science of early childhood brain development to support decision-making around Family Time/Visitation for court-involved families. The group included leading stakeholders from: Superior Court, the Supreme Court, Family Law Services, the Legislature, Children’s Administration, Service Providers, Advocacy Groups, Public Defenders, Early Learning, Seattle U and the UW Schools of Law, Private Foundations and National Experts.

The group engaged in a dynamic discussion about strategies to improve the quality and effectiveness of visitation for young children, their families and professionals. The group agreed that judicial officers would benefit from guidelines around what is developmentally appropriate for children of varying ages with regard to Family Time/Visitation. Energized by the conversation, the Center for Children & Youth Justice is convening stakeholders to discuss next steps for the development of guidelines. Meeting materials are provided below.

April 2013 Meeting Materials

Healthy Beginnings, Healthy Future - A Judge's Guide (American Bar Association, National Council of Family and Juvenile Court Judges and Zero to Three, 2009)

A Call to Action on Behalf of Maltreated Infants and Toddlers (American Humane Association, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Child welfare League of America, Children's Defense Fund, and Zero to Three, 2011)

Visitation with Infants in Foster Care: What Judges and Attorneys Need to Know, by Margaret Smargia (American Bar Association and Zero to Three, 2007).

A Developmental Approach to Child Welfare Services for Infants, Toddlers and their Families: A Self-Assessment Tool for States and Counties Administering Child Welfare Services

November 2012 Meeting Materials

Washington State Social Workers Guide

Partners for our Children – Visitation Brief (April 2011)

Florida Courts Family Centered Practice

Judge Johnson's PPT, 8/3/2012

Nebraska Guidelines for Parenting Times for Children in Out of Home Care

Nebraska Parenting Act

Order Establishing Local Rule Implementing the Visitation Protocol. Troup County Juvenile Court, Georgia

Family Time Decision Model

Iowa Visitation Philosophy


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