What a Judge Looks for in a Case Report
(Written by Judge Benson from McDonough County)
  1. The Truth. Often Caseworkers don’t say what is going on. It may be that it is easier to not say negative things about the foster family or the department would have to pay more money if the truth is told. There is so much turnover. The new Caseworker may not know how to do a referral, for example.

  2. What is going on with the family or child.

  3. Is there something else a Judge could order or is there a need that can be easily met? i.e., a flute, an American Girl Doll, money for the 8th grade class trip. Judges and attorneys are plugged into a community and can provide needs.

  4. When something goes wrong at school. i.e., an IEP is not honored, the child is treated unfairly, a deaf interpreter is needed.

  5. Services that are not happening that are needed by the child or family. i.e., specific therapy or treatment center or is the child wetting the bed? Is the child walking funny? Judges can order certain services: specific therapies, assessments and evaluations, removal of a child from a placement, but the Judge cannot state where a child should be placed.

  6. Interactions with the bio parents.

  7. Safety issues

  8. Siblings—is the child seeing his/her siblings? How often?

  9. How is the child being kept? i.e., is their hair being cared for? Are they in clean clothes?

  10. Is the CW lying?

  11. Insight into the kids, i.e., what is the child like? what does the child like to do?

  12. If the foster parents have a need. CW don’t like to say anything bad about a foster home. They don’t like to tell the Judge when a bio child does not get along with a foster child. The judge feels blindsided when a placement is disrupted, when there was no hint of a problem in CW court reports.