Legal – Communication and Documentation

The most important thing we do is to ensure the children we serve are getting all of their needs met!  We do this in our everyday interactions with the families, as well as through the legal system.  Below are tips which can assist in collaborating with legal services.

Documentation is critical!  Policy is to ensure every event in a case- be it an email, referral, letter, attempted phone call etc. is documented in FSFN within 48 hours of the event.  The longer the lapse in time between an event and documenting it- the less likely there will be accurate details.  Don’t rely on your memory!  Presentation is everything so ensuring documentation is concise, clear, has proper grammar and is free of typos is important.  At times we cut and paste from one document to the next and we forget to change names, expiration dates, etc. 

Open lines of communication are critical.  If an issue arises, we must immediately communicate the concern, provide evidentiary proof it is a concern, and work with Children’s Legal Services (CLS) to find a positive resolution.  If we can’t resolve an issue quickly it is important to follow the chain of command to get a timely resolution.

CLS is being guided by two critical principles:

Ø  Use of Common Sense - Is what we are trying to achieve making sense?

Ø  A Sense of Urgency - If a change is needed, not waiting until the next scheduled hearing - but proactively requesting a sooner hearing or staffing to ensure the needed change is facilitated

When communicating with CLS, GAL, parents, co-workers, providers or others involved with the children we serve:

Ø  Don’t Take it Personally

Ø  Don’t Make Assumptions

Ø  Be Impeccable with Your Word (Do What You Say)

Ø  Always Do Your Best

Effective communication with CLS is critical.

Ø  Understand that attorney’s perspective is different

Ø  Attorneys are part of the team to keep children safe

Ø  Personality issues can prevent flow of information

Ø  Address communication barriers

All of us working together as a team through open lines of communication and more diligence in our documentation will lead to timelier permanency for the children we serve!