Questions Every Judge and Lawyer Should Ask About Infants and Children in the Child Welfare System

July 1, 2017

Infants and young children under the supervision of the court often have complicated and serious physical, developmental, and mental health-related challenges, so much so, that the American Academy of Pediatrics has classified this population as one with special health care needs.[1] Thus, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has released an updated version of the technical assistance brief, Questions Every Judge and Lawyer Should Ask About Infants and Children in the Child Welfare System, 15 years after its original publication, a partnership with the Quality Improvement Center for Research-Based Infant-Toddler Court Teams.

This technical assistance brief and accompanying bench card were developed for use by judges, attorneys, child advocates, and other child welfare­­­­­­­­­­­­­ professionals working with families and their children under five years old. It covers topics and potential issues that should be addressed in order to meet the complex and wide ranging needs of this vulnerable population. The technical assistance brief and bench card is organized by topic, with recommended questions every judge and lawyer should ask to solicit important information to best address the needs and well-being of the child and family.

Original topics, such as physical, mental, and developmental health were updated with assistance from field experts and include information gathered from research studies and data reports completed since the original publication 15 years ago. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, exposure to violence, trauma and its impact on parenting abilities, and family time are just a few of the new areas covered in the recently updated version.

For the technical assistance bulletin:

For the bench card: 


[1] Szilagyi, M. A., Rosen, D.S., Rubin, D., & Zlotnik, S. (2015). Health care issues for children and adolescents in foster care and kinship care. Pediatrics, 136 (4), 1142- 1166. Retrieved from