Texas Christian University, Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development, 2019, 1 hour, 14 minutes,
In a Tyler, Texas, courtroom, Judge Carole Clark is making an effort to transform the foster care system. A former caseworker, Clark had seen enough devastation of children and families, and she knew she needed to take a different role as a judge presiding over family court cases. The process of transforming her courtroom is now showcased in the new film “All Rise: For the Good of the Child.”
Inspired by the work of the late Dr. Karyn Purvis from Texas Christian University who developed trust-based relational intervention (TBRI), Clark created the first trauma-informed courtroom in the country. Using TBRI and Circle of Security, a model to teach children and families about attachment and security, Clark works with families to address the trauma that led them to lose their children to the foster care system.
“People are about 60 percent more likely to succeed having to come to the judge because they build that relationship and that’s where the healing starts,” says Judge Clark in the film. “If I can trust you, I will listen to you.”
The film highlights several parents who’ve come through her courtroom program and have regained custody of their children, including Julie Warren, who now works with parents in similar situations.
“They connected with me on a different level. Not judge and a case number, but Carole Clark and Julie Warren and she believed in me … I’m forever grateful because now I’m breaking the cycle. I’m able to connect with my children in a way that I never knew how and I’m so thankful because I didn’t have the parents. I didn’t have any support. The court was my family. They were there when I needed somebody. They don’t give up. They’re not there to judge me, to put me down, to send me away, to take my children. They’re there to build me back up.”
In addition, longtime child welfare professionals, including caseworkers, lawyers and others share how being involved in Judge Clark’s courtroom has changed how they work with the children and families they come into contact with.
“I’ve been licensed to practice for 20 years. I’ve been doing family law cases and CPS cases for at least 16 years. I have never seen a court like this,” said Jeremy Coe, a family law attorney. “I’ve absolutely seen people change.”
Watching career child welfare professionals get choked up about the change they’ve seen in Judge Clark’s courtroom is inspiring. Jennifer Gregory is a licensed social worker who works closely with Judge Clark, and shares in the film: “We offer relationship and connection with therapeutic tools that they can use every day. Her court’s a success because it’s a group effort. Everybody is in it for the same goal. For these parents to find healing. For them to understand their trauma. For the children to experience that healing and understand their trauma, so we don’t have to have them back again … ever.”
“All Rise: For the Good of the Child” is an inspiring film. It would be amazing to see every family court in America operated in a similar manner to really help families and children heal. This film should be a must-see for all those involved in the child welfare system.
Judge Clark retired in December and is now consulting with other judges across the country. The film can be accessed at https://allriseforchildren.com/watch-the-film/.
— Reviewed by Kim Phagan-Hansel