Where Are All the Children? Increasing Youth Participation in Dependency Proceedings
32 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2008
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: Suggested Citation