To provide a supportive and educational experience for children and their parent or guardian in hopes of reducing the stress associated with going to court.
What is Kid’s Court
Testifying in court can be a frightening and confusing experience, even for adults for which the system was designed. Kid’s Court is a special program for children who have been victims of abuse and neglect resulting in a dependency or criminal case. It offers a supportive and educational experience to children and their parent/guardian in hopes of reducing the stress associated with going to court.
Research has shown that children can be excellent courtroom witnesses. With proper preparation, a child’s anxiety can be reduced, resulting in a more accurate testimony. Kid’s Court gives children the opportunity to learn about court and the people who work there in a fun and relaxing atmosphere. Children actually visit a courtroom when it is empty and less threatening. They also learn new words like oath and overruled so that when in court these words do not sound scary.
In addition to becoming familiar with people, terminology, and court process, children are empowered by learning they have rights in the courtroom. One right is that of having a supportive person with them when they testify.
Court preparation can take place in a group setting or in individual sessions. Either option or a combination of both can be beneficial.
Group preparation allows children to feel less isolated; they are able to see that other children go to court too. Some children may have difficulties due to their abuse or they may find they just do better in a one-on-one learning environment. Parents and guardians are also included in Kid’s Court, because they experience a wide range of emotions and are filled with questions as well. Their support and understanding has a significant impact on the ability of their child to cope with court process. Parents/guardians attend separate sessions to address their needs.
Kid’s Court is an activity based program that utilizes games, discussions, role playing, booklets, visual aids, relaxation techniques, art, and positive self talk. Emotional support is offered through the counseling process as well as counseling afterward. Kid’s Court helps to empower children to view testifying in court as a more positive and beneficial experience.
If you would like to learn more about Kid's Court or about the Gulf Coast CAC, please contact our office at 850-872-7760 or click on the "Contact" link on our website to submit your inquiry.