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Child Victims and Witnesses Support Materials: Who's That? In Family and Dependency Court

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2021

Intended for use by child victims and witnesses ages 13-18 involved in a child welfare case, this guide explains the roles of professionals who work on child welfare cases and offers practical tips for preparing for family or dependency court, as well as information on the rights of children involved in such cases.


The professional roles described are those of child protective services (CPS) caseworkers, who help ensure kids are safe; CPS lawyers, who argue CPS’ cases for court action to ensure the child’s safety; the “respondent,” who is the person the CPS lawyer argues is hurting or not properly caring for the child; police officers, who testify in court about their investigation of the circumstances of the case; “attorney for the child” (AFC), who is assigned by the judge to represent the interests of the child; the “guardian ad litem “ (GAL), who recommends to the court the actions the GAL believes are best for the child’s welfare; the ”court-appointed special advocate” (CASA), who is appointed by the judge to obtain services needed by the child; the “family/victim advocate,” who helps the child understand the investigation and court procedures; social workers, who help all parties in the case; the judge, who manages court proceedings; attorney or assigned counsel, who represents the interests of parents or guardians in the case; and the “court attorney,” who researches legal issues related to the case as instructed by the judge. Other case-related functions are described for the court clerk, the court officer, the court reporter, and the language interpreter. The child’s rights under various circumstances of a case are briefly explained.

Date Published: June 1, 2021