Where Are All the Children? Increasing Youth Participation in Dependency Proceedings

32 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2008

See all articles by Erik S. Pitchal

Erik S. Pitchal

affiliation not provided to SSRN


In juvenile court dependency proceedings, judges determine whether parents have abused or neglected their children and assess whether children can remain safely at home. On any given day, over half a million children are in foster care as a result of a dependency case. Dependency courts are required to review cases at least annually, considering whether children should be reunified with their families, adopted, or remain in foster care. Significant matters are at stake in dependency cases, with fundamental questions about the child - where will she live? Who will take care of her? What services will she receive? - constantly at issue. Yet unlike any other litigation, in the dependency case, the one person whose life is most in the balance is hardly ever present. This Article analyzes the strange world of dependency court, highlighting the procedural and substantive failings that result when children are not active participants in their own cases, and suggesting that states take a more active role in ensuring that the voices of youth are heard.

Suggested Citation

Pitchal, Erik S., Where Are All the Children? Increasing Youth Participation in Dependency Proceedings. Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy, Vol. 12, Winter 2008, Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 08-09, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1092668

Erik S. Pitchal (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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