CASA / GAL Community:   State & Local ProgramsJudges' PageAdvocacy ResourcesBoard Members

judges' page masthead

Related Resources

Revised Guidelines for State Courts for ICWA: They went into effect on 2/25/15 and can be found at 80 Fed. Reg. 10,146 (or here: More on a proposed rule regarding ICWA.

CANI 2015: The Child Abuse and Neglect Institute provides training in dependency court best practices for judicial officers. See the NCJFCJ site for more on this week-long training.

Podcast: "Technology and Advocacy," featuring Sharon Nelson, CASA volunteer and 2013 president of the Virginia State Bar.

Video: ReMoved,a 13-minute exploration of the complex emotions experienced by a child in foster care.

Find additional publications and websites in the "Advocacy Resources" section of this website.

The Judges' Page newsletter is published by the National CASA Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

The Need for Trauma–Informed Dependency Courts

judge j. dean lewisWinter 2015

J. Dean Lewis, Judge (retired)
Former Member, National CASA Association Board of Trustees
Past President, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

What is a trauma-informed dependency court? Why is it critical to positive outcomes for children and youth, families and caregivers, that those who participate in the dependency court systems be trained in trauma-informed care and implement trauma-informed policies, practices and services? How can judges and courts lead this effort?

Our authors will answer these questions in this issue of The Judges’ Page from the perspective of the judge, the attorney, the child and the CASA/GAL volunteer. They will provide you with research and training tools. They will share their experiences and encourage you to think of the dependency court from a totally different perspective.

Subscribe to The Judges' Page.


Articles in This Issue

Trauma-Informed Courts and the Role of the Judge
Shawn C. Marsh, PhD, Chief Program Officer (Juvenile Law), National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
Mari Kay Bickett, JD, Chief Executive Officer, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Summary: The Chief Program Officer for Juvenile Law and the CEO of The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges share the importance of becoming a trauma-informed court and the role of NCJFCJ in providing training, technical assistance and research support to judges and courts.

Ominous Trends in Foster Care: Can Trauma-Informed Courts Improve Outcomes?
Michael S. Piraino, CEO National CASA Association

Summary: The CEO of the National CASA Association informs readers of recent increases in foster care placements in conjunction with increased trauma by children entering care and negative outcomes for children and youth. He explains that National CASA is providing trauma-informed advocacy training to volunteers and supports a system-wide approach to improving outcomes.

Making a Case for Why Trauma Isn’t Fading Away
Kelly Decker, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, National Center for Child Traumatic Stress

Summary: Dr. Decker sets forth a blueprint for creating a trauma-informed court.

The Trauma-Informed Judge: Asking All the Right Questions
Judge Mary E. Triggiano, Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Wisconsin

Summary: Judge Triggiano reveals the difference implementation of the “NCTSN Bench Card for the Trauma-Informed Judge” has made in her NCJFCJ Model Court cases.

Building Trauma-Informed Dependency Courts by Using the Web-Based Tool “Trauma Informed Care: Perspectives and Resources”
Eileen Elias, MEd
Kathryne O’Grady, JD, Child Welfare Policy Director, National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health
Sherry Peters, MSW, ACSW, Assistant Professor and Senior Policy Associate, Georgetown University

Summary: The authors explain the special needs of children who have been traumatized and share an exceptional teaching tool for understanding and addressing trauma from multiple perspectives.

Using a Trauma Lens
Judge Lynn Tepper, 6th Judicial Circuit, Pasco, Florida

Summary: Judge Tepper makes the case for understanding and applying what science has documented to intervene effectively in cases involving trauma and adverse childhood experiences.

One Way of Being a More Trauma-Responsive Court
Judge Doug Johnson, Separate Juvenile Court of Douglas County, Nebraska
Tammy Quick, Supervisor, CASA for Douglas County

Summary: Judge Johnson and Ms. Quick share the important role of Finnegan, a certified therapy dog. In the courtroom, Finnegan creates a “stress free zone” for litigants. Through the eyes of a child, readers will understand the impact a therapy dog can have on reducing courtroom trauma.

The Unique Role of the CASA Volunteer: Hearing Things That Cannot Be Said
Amanda Kasper, MPH, CASA Volunteer

Summary: From her perspective as a CASA volunteer advocating for two children for five-plus years, Ms. Kasper will explain first hand the role of the CASA volunteer in providing the court critical information on the needs of traumatized children.

Understanding Trauma and Its Impact on Child Clients
Eva J. Klain, Director of the Child and Adolescent Health Project, ABA Center on Children and the Law

Summary: Ms. Klain provides ABA policy as well as offering in depth research on the subject of trauma while sharing the critical role of attorneys in advocating for the needs of children and families they represent in the dependency court system.   

© Copyright 2014, American Bar Association. Reprinted with permission from the ABA Center on Children and the Law. All rights reserved. This article is part of a series on trauma and children in the child welfare system and will be compiled into a forthcoming book. For more articles, visit

Peacemaking: An Ancient System with Modern Applications
Victoria Sweet, JD, Senior Policy Analyst, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Summary: Ms. Sweet describes the role of the Native American tradition of peacemaking in creating a justice system that is trauma-responsive.

The National CASA Network Responds to Advocates’ Need for Trauma-Informed Training
Michael S. Piraino, CEO, National CASA Association

Summary: National CASA as well as state and local programs have provided trauma-informed advocacy training to CASA/GAL volunteers and staff in an effort to promote each child’s well-being and better address the needs of children in care. Mr. Piraino gives an overview of that training.

Web Resources
Lindsay Stares, National CASA Association

Summary: Linked publications provide further reading and more in-depth information on the subject of trauma-informed dependency courts.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges took the lead in securing articles for this issue of The Judges’ Page and we thank the NCJFCJ staff for sharing their research and expertise in encouraging the creation of trauma-informed courts.

The comments of article authors do not necessarily reflect the policies of the National CASA Association or the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.


National CASA Association Reprint Policy

If an article published in The Judges' Page is reproduced, credit shall be given to the author(s) of the article, the National CASA Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

The US Department of Justice has supported CASA advocacy since 1985 through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
This Web site is funded in part through a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice. Neither the US Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, this Web site (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).