Dealing with the Courts
Go to Your Court Hearings!!!
It is very important that you attend your court hearings. You have the right to go to your court hearings and address your wants and needs to the judge and to get copies of all of your court reports. Court hearings are your chance to let the judge know what you need. The judge wants to hear from you and will take what you say seriously. All foster youth need to play an active part in making decisions about their life. Also, make sure you get copies of all of your court reports. You have the right to see your case file, case plan, and court reports if you are 12 or over. Make sure you see your case plan. If it doesn’t include everything you need, let your social worker or probation officer know. It is important that you be your own advocate and speak up for what you need.
Talk to Your Social Worker or Probation Officer!
All youth in foster care have a social worker or probation officer. Make sure to communicate your needs and wishes to your social worker or probation officer because they make reports to the court and make important decisions about where you live, who you live with, and your visits with others.
Seal Your Records When You Turn 18!
When you turn 18, you have the right to go to court and ask that your case file be sealed. This is important, because if you don’t seal your records, they will remain open for five years. This must be done after you turn 18 but before you turn 19. If you have a delinquency record and you do not have it sealed, it will always remain open. This could make it hard for you to get a job, since any employer could know about your record.
To have your records sealed, ask your social worker or probation officer for help. You could also ask your attorney or your CASA for help with this.
Talk to Your Attorney!
Make sure you communicate with your attorney about your needs and wishes. It is your attorney’s job to represent you in court and to tell the judge what you want. If you don’t know who your attorney is or have a problem contacting them, contact the Office of the Foster Care Ombudsman, and we can help you.
See Your Case Plan and Court Reports!
If you are 12 or over, you have the right to see our case file, your case plan and your court reports. If it doesn’t include everything you need, let your caseworker know. It is important that you be your own advocate and speak up for what you need while you are in placement.
Get a CASA!
A person who can help you with the court process is the Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA. The CASA spends time to get to know you and finds out what you need and want. The CASA will go to court with or for you and makes sure the judge and others who are working on your case know your needs and your perspective. Having another adult who is YOUR advocate is always valuable. California CASA