Do You Attend Court Hearings?
I want to know what New Jersey FPs do, re: attendance at hearings?

If so, has it been good for the child's case?

If not, why don't you attend?

I have never attended but have sent letters/photos (at the recommendation of a Foster Parent).
I WANT to attend court hearings
One of the most stressful things for me as a FP is waiting for the social worker to get around to contacting me after the court hearing. I WANT to attend the court hearings and THOUGHT we could, because it says so in the 1997 federal law. But I went to court the first time and sat in the hallway the whole time and felt like an idiot. I have never been officially notified of any hearings in my FS case. But I WOULD go. I prefer to hear things for myself than rely on social workers to tell me about it later. However, I HAVE been court ordered to attend mediation, as I wrote about in another thread. So that will be interesting. It is the parents, their lawyers, the social worker, the Law Guardian, the DAG and me. And the mediator.:Chewie:
I cut short my vacation to attend my fs permanency hearing. It was pretty clear cut that tpr was going to be the outcome, but nevertheless I knew that the judge in this case was very pro reunification (initially wanted a more intense search for relatives even as it was apparent that mom had clearly abandoned him) and I also knew that he was Irish, and I didn't think it would hurt that I was Irish also Wink

On both these counts it was a good thing as the GAL pointed out that I thought my attendance there was important enough to sacrifice my vacation, and the judge did crack a joke about our mutual ethnicity!

As I said, most likely TPR would have been the decision anyway, but putting a real face to the case can only be helpful, and it shows the level of commitment by the foster family. As it turns out an aunt did come forward after TPR but was ruled out because of insufficient space. DYFS told me that they were advocating for placement with me, but had I not been interested in adopting they would have worked with the aunt to secure the resources she needed to raise fs.

Thanks for replying...

I have been notified of every hearing and told that my attendance was "optional".

I recently contacted the courts to say I may attend and was told that I would not be allowed in court room and that I would only get the opportunity to speak at the hearing if I had a problem or concern that I wanted to discuss with the judge. (Fellow FP told me the same thing).

Seems like it would not be a good use of vacation time....
The court didn't have me in the computer
ARGH!! Guess what I found out? The reason I have never gotten any notices about court hearings in the Little Dude's case is that the court didn't have me in the computer! One of the previous caseworkers who was VERY disorganized, never bothered to tell the court that I was the FP!! ARGH!

I just figured this out at the mediation I attended in the Little Dude's case. So I called and got it fixed and now see that I could have been sending letters and pictures to the judge for the past 8 months. I am SOOOOO annoyed! I have 8 months of stuff to say!! (But don't worry - I will keep my cool). I am just glad that I CAN submit stuff to the judge - since my right to do that has been prevented up to now because of a stupid clerical error!!

So if anyone else out there is NOT getting notification of your FC's court hearings, call and make a fuss! The federal law of 1997 requires that you be notified. It doesn't mean you get to attend or that you can speak to the judge in person, but you can at least submit stuff. I didn't know that!:yoda:
I told not to go
Because of the circumstances of the case, the sw and the law guardian decided that dh and I should not be seen at the hearings. They said they needed to preserve our anonimity. The judge ruled for tpr just the same because of the federal law and the preponderence of evidence presented.
Hi, My dh and I attended every hearing for our girls (when the CW didn't lie about the time). The judge worked with us and was wondering. We were also able to show her pictures. At one point I brought the girls to see her. It worked out really well. Even though it was a distance we had this judge do the finalization because she had been such and advocate for us. And it was good we were there because there were mistruths being told about things so we were there to tell the truth and make sure the story was told correctly. We were actually told by the law guardian that it really helps that the judge can notice how eager you are. So in answer to your reply I would say, yes attend when you can.

Take Care, Tisa
It has been my experience after three years with a foster child and three judges on the case that the foster parents are mostly ignored. Good luck, maybe you will have a better experience.
It seems like it really depends on the Judge, and their personal feelings about foster/adopt parents, whether or not you are allowed into the courtroom. That's pretty scary. I intend to send letters and photo's if we aren't allowed in, but I will insist on being informed of when the hearings will be held. I can be !
Our first judge was awful. This was in Monmouth. He really treated us like trash. My understanding is that he was finally removed from hearing family/DYFS cases, although I don't know that this is true. He was on long enough to really harm our foster child's situation and that of his brother's.
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