Washington Judicial Colloquies Project – Using Language that Children Can Understand in Juvenile Court


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Last year, I attended the National Juvenile Defender Summit in Seattle, Washington.  At the Summit, I attended TeamChild’s presentation about one of their current projects.  TeamChild was working on developing youth friendly colloquies for juvenile courts in two Washington Counties.

The presentation inspired me. I had never before thought about the fact that though juvenile courts are designed for children, they often do not utilize language designed for children.  My next thought was “This project needs to be implemented everywhere!”

TeamChild and the Juvenile Indigent Defense Network have partnered with the MacArthur Foundation to publish a useful guide for other jurisdictions to replicate their project.  The Washington Judicial Colloquies Project: A Guide for Improving Comprehension and Understanding in Juvenile Court was recently released and is available free on TeamChild’s website.  In addition, TeamChild and the National Juvenile Justice Network have released a helpful webinar titled Using Language in Court that Youth Can Understand: The Washington Judicial Colloquies Project.  The webinar provides further explanation of TeamChild’s approach to gathering research data, drafting the forms and colloquies, and implementing the use of these youth friendly colloquies in juvenile courts.

The webinar is presented by Rosa Peralta.  She also gave the presentation that I attended at the 2011 National Juvenile Defender Summit.  Rosa is a research associate at TeamChild. She has worked with a wide range of private, public and volunteer sector organizations to support and improve services for young people. As the research associate at TeamChild in Seattle, WA, she coordinates the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network (JIDAN) and the Models For Change (MfC) defender projects in Washington State. Prior to completing her Ph.D. training in Sociology at the University of Michigan, Rosa worked for many years as a criminal defense investigator at one of Seattle’s public defense agencies. Rosa taught sociology at the University of Michigan and she also developed and managed recruitment and retention programs for underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students.

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