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National Judicial Institute

Superior Court of Justice (Ontario) Family Court Branch Heidi S. Levenson Polowin Education Seminar


The 2018 Heidi S. Levenson Polowin Education Seminar was an additional seminar for Family Court Branch judges that immediately preceded the Court’s fall Education Seminar. It focused on understanding how trauma may be affecting the families coming before the court and what this might mean for the role of the judge. The program included presentations by experts in the field as well as an opportunity for judge-only discussions. The program also included an overview of the new SCJO Child Protection Bench Book as well as the child protection provisions of the Child and Youth Family Services Act.


The objectives of this seminar were to prepare Family Court Branch judges for the enactment of the new legislation, including the specific changes affecting Indigenous families, youth and children.


Trauma in the Families Before Us
Many of the families involved in child protection proceedings have experienced violence or other traumatic events. In this session, experts reviewed how trauma can affect both the children who are the subject of our attention and their adult caregivers. It discussed how trauma impacts physical health, mental health, and ability to respond successfully to treatment and other interventions. The session also considered how the stress of the courtroom environment may affect the ability of adult trauma survivors to communicate effectively. The goal was to provide participants with a primer on the science of trauma and an opportunity to consider how we can accommodate the impact of trauma within the court process without causing unreasonable delays.

Trauma in the Families Before Us: Judge-Only Discussions
In this judges-only session, participants were provided with an opportunity to reflect on how they might manage some of the issues raised in the morning session and how what has been discussed applies in the courtroom. A series of questions was put to the tables for facilitated small group discussions, followed by a plenary debrief. 

Child Protection Updates: SCJO Child Protection Bench Book & Overview of CYFSA Provisions


Nov 6th 2018

Number of Participants