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Under ASFA, children’s well being refers to factors other than safety and permanency that relate to a child’s current and future welfare—most notably, the child’s educational achievement and mental and physical health. ASFA well being outcome goals are:

  1. Families have enhanced capacity to provide for their children’s needs
  2. Children receive appropriate services to meet their educational needs
  3. Children receive adequate services to meet their physical and mental health needs.

The court’s role in ensuring the well being of children is more indirect. Although courts do not provide care for children directly, they do have a role in inquiring about the health, medical care, school attendance, and other indicators that children are being properly cared for. These indicators may provide cues of dysfunctional family relationships and cause the family to return to court repeatedly.

In the future, it may be helpful for courts to use child well-being measures in analyzing their own performance. To the extent that courts have the responsibility to make sure that the state is providing proper care to children in its custody, it will be useful for courts to know whether those children over whom they have jurisdiction are receiving a good education and are physically and emotionally healthy. If a local court learns, for example, that children in court supervised foster care are substantially behind educationally, the court may decide to ask more penetrating questions about children’s educational attainment. The court may decide to demand more documentation concerning the child’s education, may instruct guardian ad litem’s to check into children’s educational progress, and may even decide to join in meetings with school officials to discuss the educational needs of children in foster care and how best to address them

That being said, it is premature at this time to have courts adopt measures of well-being when consensus does not exist on measures for which courts have direct responsibility. Although it may be premature to address the court’s role in well being to the extent of that no key measures are being proposed here, we can discuss what form a well being measure may take.

Streaming Video
Click here for an overview of Child Well Being by Gene Flango (Length - 1 min 47sec)