Reports for Court
The current Permanency Law in New York State requires that at each permanency hearing, the next one is put on the calendar before everyone leaves. This means that when your client next sees you, he or she should know the date for the next hearing. Put it on your calendar, with a reminder two weeks before to prepare an update letter for Court. These reports should not be a surprise!
Letters for Court don’t have to be long. But they do need to provide information beyond simple attendance and urine screen results. A good letter for Court mentions participation, attitude, motivation, and progress. It provides simple details that give the reader a clearer picture of how your client is special – what he or she has been achieving. It also includes explanations or context information for any slips or relapses. (For example, if a client had a “slip” – a one time relapse – and self-reported it the next day, used it as a constructive learning experience, and has made progress since then, explain it! The Judge and the child welfare agency have no way of knowing what happened unless treatment providers explain it.
Below is a list of what information should be included in a report:
- Key names (case manager, treatment counselor)
- Participation/attendance in groups relevant to service mandates
- Treatment schedule and attendance
- Assessment of motivation, engagement, and interest in treatment
- Any outstanding progress – qualitative details
- Toxicology results – if positive screen, what has happened as a result, and anything that might help explain a slip
- Participation in any ancillary services
- Update on children (from client self-report or treatment provider observations)
Click here for a sample letter.
Click here to see a copy of the form used by Family Treatment Court.