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Supporting Children Involved with the Justice System

Thursday, April 13
12 – 3 p.m.

Children participate in adult-oriented and adult-controlled court systems on a daily basis. Many of these children are victims of, or witnesses to, trauma and are frequently retraumatized by a justice system that does not always adjust to their needs.

This class will discuss the experiences of children involved in the justice system, techniques for quick rapport-building and engagement when meeting children in court, supportive ways to explain the justice system in developmentally appropriate language, and how to provide trauma-informed, effective advocacy for a population that is often left voiceless. It will also cover best practices for a multidisciplinary team approach to supporting court-involved children, including how a social worker can advocate for the value of one’s expertise within such a team, as well as how to support non-social work colleagues dealing with secondary trauma from this work.

This class will provide an understanding of a child’s rights within the justice system, ideas and tools to help them cope with the emotional stress, and tips for those who may prepare children to testify in court. As forensic social workers and clinicians, we must learn how to empower children and their caregivers to have a better understanding of the complicated justice systems that often dictate their lives. Participants will also learn about procedural justice with special considerations for children and caregivers, as well as ethical considerations for a social worker when working within the justice system, including advocacy versus best interest.

Three continuing education hours will be offered upon completion of this class.


This event is open to alumni, faculty/staff, parents, students, and the public.