Ingrid Mattson



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The judge's work in child abuse and neglect cases is among the most challenging of any judicial proceeding. The complexities are substantial. Such cases depend upon the exercise of discretion and good judgment together with the application of sound legal principles. The judge must call upon his or her most cherished skills—objectivity, wisdom, patience, and foresight—in circumstances of acute stress. Lives are literally at stake—the lives of the most vulnerable children and youth in our communities and the lives of families wracked by generations of poverty and despair. Families, children, and youth who have experienced intense trauma; who may be mentally ill; where domestic violence may have become a way of life; where substance abuse, alcoholism, and the experience of incarceration have become normal, all rely on the dependency judge for timely and just resolution. The judge is called upon to bring safety, well-being, and permanence to the child. Decisions must be made. Problems must be solved. The stakes are high.

What makes this work possible is judicial leadership and system collaboration: the internal system in your courtroom and your courthouse; the external system among the community of stakeholders, service providers, other branches of government, and the like. Embracing these internal and external resources not only makes your job easier but also richer, and good results are more likely to ensue for the troubled children and families we serve. This collection of practices provides options for this important work—options that have been proven to result in better outcomes. They provide real, achievable, cost-effective, and efficient means to improve the process as well. Use them. They will enhance the already extraordinary work you are doing every day.

Publication Date


Document Type



Center for Children & Youth Justice




best practices, dependency


Family Law

Washington State Dependency Best Practices Report

Catalog Record

Included in

Family Law Commons