(SEPTEMBER 12, 2023) – The Fifteenth Circuit’s Juvenile Division has been selected to participate in the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ (NCJFCJ) Implementation Sites Project. The NCJFCJ’s Implementation Sites Project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, provides child abuse and neglect courts with training, technical assistance, and tailored support from a site manager to improve the handling of dependency cases and improve the lives of families and children.
The project, which spans over a two-year period, will begin on September 15. Each site selected will use a judicially led collaborative stakeholder team to assess current practices, identify goals, and implement change to improve their court practices and the delivery of services to families and children.
As a selected site, the Fifteenth Circuit is tasked with prioritizing the NCJFCJ’s Key Principles of Permanency Planning, some of which include ensuring access to justice, cultivating cultural responsiveness, providing judicial oversight and keeping families together.
Here in the Fifteenth Circuit, Judge Kathleen Kroll, Administrative Judge in Juvenile, will be the judicial lead and the collaborative team will focus on improving court hearings, procedures, and services for the youth who are aging out of foster care. Judge Kroll stated she was “impressed with the enthusiasm the juvenile division court partners have shown for this project and the desire of everyone to improve the lives of our youth who either enter independent living situations or extended foster care. The goal is to institutionalize best practices in this area and identify any service gaps.”
Published: September 2023
Written by: Adam Myron
If you’ve ever tried to get a six-year-old to eat vegetables, you know that children can be masterful negotiators. I know I’ve had the following conversation many times:
“You have to eat all your carrots and broccoli. No ice cream until you do.”
“I can eat all that. I’ll eat three carrots and two pieces of broccoli.”
“Fine, just eat already.”
“And I want two scoops of ice cream.”
“Don’t push your luck…”
Everyone’s interests are met in these negotiations. Here, my interest in ensuring my child eats vegetables is met, even if it comes at the cost of replacing a few vegetables with a little ice cream. My child’s interests in getting dessert and not eating too many vegetables are met, at the mere cost of having to eat a few vegetables. Everyone is a winner.
The frequency of such negotiations with my own children got me wondering: How do some human beings develop effective negotiation skills at an early age? Fully answering that question would likely require a much more complicated and lengthy discussion than the space limitations of this article will allow. However, I suspect that at least part of the answer lies in the fact that the stories, fables, and parables that parents and other caregivers tell children include morals and lessons that mirror the foundational principles upon which effective negotiations are built. Consider the following examples.
In The Boy Who Cried Wolf, a mischievous child tasked with notifying neighbors of threats to the village gets a good laugh by sounding multiple false alarms of “wolf” until the day that an actual wolf appears and no one believes his cries to be true. The result: happy wolf; not so happy boy. Through this story, children learn the importance of building and maintaining trust, a key ingredient to an effective negotiation. It may seem obvious, but if you fail to build trust with your negotiating partner (I use the term negotiating “partner” because I believe it’s counterproductive to think of that person as an adversary), you are much less likely to achieve as good of a negotiated outcome as you would have achieved if your partner had confidence in the accuracy and veracity of the information and perspectives you conveyed during the negotiation.
In The Tortoise and the Hare, a steady and persistent tortoise wins a footrace against an overeager and easily distracted hare. The morals embedded in The Tortoise and the Hare are useful to remember at the negotiating table because negotiating is an arduous task. It can take a lot of time, and it works best when the parties are focused and do not rush.
In The Lion and the Mouse, the king of the jungle steps on a thorn. He roars and howls with pain until a mouse, who could easily take advantage of the situation by leaving the lion to his misery, instead pulls the thorn from the lion’s paw. Through an act of kindness, the mouse gains a powerful lifelong friend. The Lion and the Mouse teaches children the values of trust, empathy, and compassion. When those values are put into practice during the negotiation process, negotiators are better able to understand perspectives that differ from their own; and, by putting themselves in the shoes of their negotiating partners, they can better understand the interests and incentives that will facilitate better-negotiated outcomes.
The Lion and the Mouse also serves as an excellent example of how to overcome a cognitive bias known as the fundamental attribution error, which is the tendency to explain other people’s behavior by placing too much emphasis on internal dispositional factors and too little emphasis on external situational factors. In the story, the mouse has to overcome the urge to ascribe the lion’s roaring to a fierce aggressive disposition and consider that the lion’s behavior was the result of some external cause (specifically, stepping on a thorn). Resisting that urge opened a pathway to compassion and empathy, which resulted in a positive outcome for both the lion and the mouse.
We navigate life by constantly negotiating. Sometimes, negotiations are with other people (how do you and I resolve our conflict?), sometimes they’re with the environment (how do I get from point A to point B?), and sometimes they’re with ourselves (how will I reward myself later for hard work I do now?). Often, we negotiate with those to whom we owe the greatest duty of care: the next generation of children who one day will be the stewards of the planet. So although it might result in a few less vegetables and a little more ice cream eaten at suppertime, I’m still glad that the fables and stories we tell children are grounded in principles for future success.
Adam Myron is an attorney with the law firm of Cagnet Myron Law, P.A., where, as a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Mediator and a Florida Qualified Arbitrator, he focuses a large part of his practice on alternative dispute resolution. Adam is also a civil litigator in the fields of complex business litigation, trust & estate litigation, and professional liability litigation. You can email Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org and learn more about him by visiting https://cagnetmyronlaw.com/about/attorneys/adam-myron/.
For additional ADR tips and resources, go to https://www.palmbeachbar.org/alternative- dispute-resolution-committee/.
The South County Courthouse will be closed Monday, November 20 through Friday, November 24. The County must close the building for the fumigation of termites (Thursday, November 23, and Friday, November 24, are court holidays).
Please note that if you have a court event scheduled on Monday, November 20, Tuesday, November 21, and/or Wednesday, November 22, please check with the clerk to see if your event is postponed or moved to another courthouse location.
Court will resume on Monday, November 27.
The Fifteenth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission (“JNC”) held its Annual Meeting on August 14, 2023. In accordance with the Uniform Rules, Gordon Dieterle was elected Chairperson for the 2023-2024 term. Eric Levine was elected Vice Chairperson for the 2023-2024 term.
If you have any questions, please contact Robert Harvey by telephone or email at email@example.com.
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