Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children


Youth Participation in Court


Current Commission Products:
Virtual Family Court |Tips on Your Permanency Hearing | Digital Stories | Handbook

As a means to promote the safety, permanency and well-being for all New York State children in out-of-home care, the Commission is working to increase the participation of children in permanency hearings– special court hearings where the health, well-being and future steps for children in out-of-home care are reviewed and determined with the goal of achieving permanency for these children.

Meaningful participation in their hearings will empower children, help New York State comply with recent federal and New York State laws requiring Family Court judges to consult with children in an age-appropriate manner at all permanency hearings, and ultimately produce better fact-finding that will lead to better decisions and better outcomes for children and their families.

Advocacy, Representation, and Hearings in Virtual Family Court

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, in-person court appearances are currently limited and certain cases are proceeding with virtual court appearances. This requires people, including judges, attorneys and litigants, to utilize technology platforms that may be unfamiliar to them.

As the first in a series of programs created by the NYS Unified Court System addressing topics particular to the virtual Family Court setting, this presentation is intended for attorneys, parents, youth, and child welfare agencies/organizations. “Participating in a Virtual Court Appearance Via Skype for Business” answers basic questions about taking part in a court proceeding using Skype such as:

  • How do I know if I need to appear remotely?
  • What do I need to appear remotely?
  • What will I see when I join?
  • How should I present myself?
  • How do I connect when it’s time?

Subsequent programs will dive deeper into the technical details, legal ramifications and practical considerations. This series is being produced because of the generous support of the Redlich Horwitz Foundation.

Hear MeParticipating in a Virtual Court Appearance via Skype for Business (Video)





The second program in the series is “Family Court Representation in the Virtual Age”. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the way in which judges, advocates and litigants address the nuanced issues that arise daily in a Family Court setting. In this program, Albany County Family Court Judge Richard Rivera and Jaya L Connors, the Assistant Professor of Law and Director of Family Violence Litigation Clinic at the Justice Center at Albany Law School, discuss the dynamics, pitfalls and future of virtual representation in the Family Court.


Family Court Representation in the Virtual Age Family Court Representation in the Virtual Age (Video)




The third program in the series is “Family Court in the Virtual Age”.  The vital work of New York’s Family Courts has continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit in a different format.  The recording of a live virtual roundtable discussion addresses the Family Court’s reaction to the pandemic and analyze the implications, both now and in the future, for virtual representation. It features:
* Hon. Edwina Mendelson, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, Office for Justice Initiatives
* Hon. Craig J. Doran, Administrative Judge, Seventh Judicial District
* Hon. Jeanette Ruiz, Administrative Judge, New York City Family Court
* Henry M. Greenberg, chairman of the Chief Judge’s Commission to Reimagine the Future of the New York Courts.

The program is made possible through the generous assistance of the Redlich Horwitz Foundation (, and implemented in partnership with the Office of Justice Initiatives, the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, and the Child Welfare Court Improvement Project.



Family Court in the Virtual Age Family Court in the Virtual Age (Video)






Tips and Tools for Attending Your Permanency Hearing


Your Permanency Hearing and You (Video)

Starring youth who have been in foster care and family court judges, the video describes the permanency hearing court process and gives some tips for youth thinking about attending their permanency hearing.

Digital Stories

Hear MeTo ensure the youth voice – the youth perspective – is heard and included in discussions on engaging children and youth in their court proceedings, the Commission working the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the New York State Court Improvement Project and Youth in Progress, developed digital stories in web-based and DVD formats.

Hear Their Voices



The Tools for Engaging Children in Their Court ProceedingsThe Tools for Engaging Children in Their Court Proceedings handbook highlights the developmental stages of school-age children (ages 5 to 20 years), provides a series of age-appropriate questions and tips on how to engage children in their court proceedings.

Access the Handbook