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Family Court Tool Kit: Trauma and Child Development

Moving toward a trauma-responsive, developmentally-informed court with a foundation in cutting-edge science

Trauma-related news

An exciting new website from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a free library of photos and videos that illustrate developmental milestones. This resource, entitled Milestones in Action, provides information for children age two months through five years.

Click here for Red Flags of Trauma, a quick guide for judges, developed by Judge Lynn Tepper, Sixth Judicial Circuit.

Child development news

Click here to read a January 2017 policy statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education. The document includes a comprehensive listing of resources beginning on page 20. The purpose of the policy statement is “to support States and communities in their efforts to better coordinate, align, and enhance health1 and early learning systems2 to promote the healthy development, early learning, and well-being of all children from birth to Kindergarten entry in the United States. This statement is intended for State and local policy-makers and administrators of systems, agencies, and programs responsible for children’s health, social-emotional development, and early learning to understand their role and take steps to improve the integration of services for young children.

What is this tool kit?

This tool kit contains compelling information, rooted in science, which aids in determining children's needs based on developmental milestones and the impact of trauma. 

Why use it?

The information and practices in this tool kit will improve judicial decision making and improve outcomes for children. The practices are in keeping with guiding principles from In re: Report of the Family Court Steering Committee, 794 So. 2d 518 (Fla. 2001). Federal regulations, state statutes, Florida Supreme Court opinions, and a judicial canon support these practices and authorize trauma screening and treatment. Click here for citations. 

Who should use it?

Judges, magistrates, and hearing officers who preside over family court cases, as well as court partners, including but not limited to mediators, attorneys, parenting coordinators, case managers, juvenile probation officers, and clerks who handle family court cases. This includes most family court case types as specified by rule. In addition, judges hearing criminal cases and those in problem-solving courts (such as drug courts, mental health courts, and veterans courts) will also benefit from studying this tool kit.

When should it be used?

Cutting edge research in the area of brain development, attachment, and child trauma demands it.

How should it be used?

The tool kit is organized in the following way: it begins with a summary of the problem, offers a proposed solution, states the goal, and provides practical tools.

Read it, digest it, practice it, and present it for discussion at a multidisciplinary brown bag luncheon, model court workshop, or learning circle.

Continue to "The Problem" >