Please review the information in the following sections below.
PRELIMINARY PROTECTIVE HEARING
Persons who should be present at the PPH2
Judge or judicial officer
Parents of each child whose rights have not been terminated – Mothers, fathers (legal, biological, alleged, putative, named), non-custodial parents – all possible parents
Parent partners, parent mentors if assigned/available, substance abuse coach, DV advocate
Relatives – relatives with legal standing or other custodial adults, including adult half-siblings – Paternal and maternal relatives
Non-related extended family, fictive kin (someone who is known and trusted by the families; godparents)
Attorney for each parent (if conflict exists)
Legal advocate for the child
Guardian ad Litem (GAL)
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
ICWA expert (if ICWA applies)
Tribal representative/tribal liaison
Treatment and/or service providers
All age-appropriate children
Cultural leaders, cultural liaisons, religious leaders
Court-certified interpreters or court-certified language services
Education liaison/school representative
Courts can make sure that parties and key witnesses are present by:3
Ensuring that the judge, not the bailiff or court staff, makes the determination about who is allowed to be in the courtroom.
Asking the youth/family if there is someone else who should be present.
Requiring quick and diligent notification efforts by the agency.
Requiring both oral and written notification in a language understandable to each party and witness.
Requiring service/tribal notice to include the reason for removal, purpose of the hearing, availability of legal assistance in a language and form that is understandable to each party and witness.
Requiring caseworkers and/or protective service investigators to facilitate attendance of children, parents, relatives (paternal and maternal), fictive kin and other parties.
Facilitating telephonic or video conferencing appearance at hearings.
Reviewing the Petition
A sworn petition or complaint should be filed prior to the preliminary protective hearing and served/provided to the parents.
The petition should be specific about the facts that bring the child before the court.
The petition should not be conclusory without relevant facts to explain and support the conclusions.
Petitions need to include allegations specific to each legal parent or legal guardian if appropriate.
If the petition does not contain allegations against a legal parent or legal guardian, the child should be placed with or returned to that parent or legal guardian unless it is determined that there is a safety threat to the child.
Petitions/removal affidavits need to include specific language clearly articulating the current threat to the child’s safety
Reflections on the Decision-Making Process that Protect Against Institutional Bias:
Ask yourself, as a judge:
What assumptions have I made about the cultural identity, genders, and background of this family?
What is my understanding of this family’s unique culture and circumstances?
How is my decision specific to this child and this family?
How has the court’s past contact and involvement with this family influenced (or how might it influence) my decision-making process and findings?
What evidence has supported every conclusion I have drawn, and how have I challenged unsupported assumptions?
Am I convinced that reasonable efforts (or active efforts in ICWA cases) have been made in an individualized way to match the needs of the family?
Am I considering relatives as preferred placement options as long as they can protect the child and support the permanency plan?