One day, a person came to talk to you and said, "I am your caseworker." You might not have known what a caseworker was or why you needed one. Or maybe, you had a caseworker before and were not happy to have one again. Or maybe, just maybe, it seemed like someone was going to help make your home a better place to be. You might be wondering...
Why Do I Have a Caseworker?
Kids get caseworkers for lots of reasons, but we're talking about caseworkers who make sure that you are healthy and safe. If you have a caseworker, it is because someone thought that your family needed some extra help in making sure you are safe and have all the things you need to keep you healthy and well. In order to do that, a judge is going to supervise. That just means that you, your family and your caseworker are going to see the judge and let him or her know what is happening and how things are going until he's sure that they are better. Here is the important thing to remember: the people in the courtroom (that's where you'll see the judge) are there to help you and your family, not to punish anyone.
Where Am I Going To Live?
Sometimes, when kids are in danger, they have to go and live in another place until they can be safe at home again. Some kids go to foster homes where they live with a family. Other kids go to a group home where they live with other kids and some adults who take care of them. Some placements are called "shelter," because a child only lives there for a short time and then moves somewhere else. If you can't live with your mom or dad, the next best place might be with one of your relatives or an adult family friend. If you know of one of these people who you would like to live with, make sure you tell your caseworker or your lawyer.
Who Can I Talk To?
Every child who has to go to court has a lawyer. Most kids have a special kind of lawyer called a "Guardian ad Litem" or GAL. Your GAL is the person who will be in the courtroom talking to the judge and other people about what you want and what you need. Your GAL is a special helper, and you can tell him or her anything. Make sure your GAL knows what you are afraid of and what you would like. The more you tell your helper, the more help you and your family can get to make things better.
If you want to know more about what happens when you go to court, you can look here.