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Court video offers firsthand accounts of life in Wis. foster system

State circuit court judges are getting a firsthand look at how the court system affects foster children.

A training video released Monday by the Wisconsin Children’s Court Improvement Program features unscripted accounts from 10 young adults who have been in foster care. Video participants “candidly reflect on experiences they had in court,” according to a release.

“This innovative video provides insight for the judges from the very children they are to help,” Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson said in a statement. “The children in the foster care system depend on us when all else has failed, and they deserve our utmost attention, care and help.”

Video participants said they sometimes felt intimidated, scared and out of place during court proceedings, and they encouraged judges to communicate more directly with children.

“I feel that when people say it’s traumatic or stressful for youth to go to their own court proceedings, I would say they are incorrect,” one of the young adults featured in the video said, according to the release. “[Children] want to be involved in planning their future, and they want to make sure that everybody has their best interests in mind.”

The video has been shown to judges and court staff at statewide training sessions.

The video was produced by the Wisconsin Children’s Court Improvement Program and the state Department of Children and Families. Seattle-based Casey Family Programs foundation financed the video through a grant.


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