“Least Restrictive”

Sometimes you will hear someone (usually a judge or attorney) talk about the “least restrictive” options or alternatives to removal for a child. Here’s what they’re talking about.   The least restrictive is when the child can remain in the home with the parent, perhaps with a safety plan or other services. If a Child… Continue reading “Least Restrictive”

Language, Part Five

TPR – This is the hardest one to talk to kids about, but I prefer that they hear it from me and their therapist rather than their parents or even their DHS worker. The parents may not have the language to describe what’s happening, may get it wrong, or may have too much emotion tied… Continue reading Language, Part Five

Language, Part Four

Most of us have a general idea about how to talk to kids in age-appropriate ways. In this case, I’m not using that phrase to mean things that are “age-appropriate” in the sense of profanity, or sexual, or anything like that. That’s obviously important, but right now, I just want to talk about age-appropriate in… Continue reading Language, Part Four

Language, Part Three

CINA kids’ vocabulary is different from ours; not just in the words and phrases themselves, but the meaning of some of those words and phrases. Sometimes they have to be taught that certain words they know (profanity, sexual terms, etc.) are not words they can use in school. They may not know this, and even… Continue reading Language, Part Three

Language, Part Two

Talking to younger kids about their case is sometimes challenging because their vocabulary doesn’t include words commonly found in the legal system. The concepts are complex and need to be broken down in a way that they can understand. The easiest way to do that is to analogize something they don’t know with something they… Continue reading Language, Part Two

Telling the Truth

Part One of a Series on Talking to Kids who are DHS/Court-Involved   As a guardian ad litem (“GAL”), I work with kids in a wide range of ages. Some of the things I say are the same regardless of age, while others are specific to younger or older kids. Some are things I learned… Continue reading Telling the Truth

What’s the Process?

In Polk County, Iowa, attorneys are appointed to juvenile child welfare cases at the time the Child in Need of Assistance (“CINA”) Petition is filed. Depending on the age of the kids, they may have one attorney who serves as both the Guardian ad litem (“GAL”) and attorney for the child, or they may have… Continue reading What’s the Process?


What can you expect in the blog section? Some posts about legal issues in juvenile child welfare (obviously).  Some posts about the procedural part of juvenile child welfare in Iowa. And also some posts about the practical issues.  What are kids thinking about, but not saying? What matters most? How do you get kids to… Continue reading Welcome!