March 7, 2022

2nd  Edition of Groundbreaking Book for Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective, 2nd Edition (2022, hardcover, 600+ pages)Second Edition of Reasonable Efforts

From the Foreword by the Hon. Michael Nash (ret.), Executive Director of the Los Angeles Office of Child Protection:

… For decades, Judge Edwards has been the conscience and the voice for juvenile court judges nationwide.  He has helped define and shape our role more than any other juvenile court judge ever.  Once again, he has raised his voice to emphasize the importance of this part of our role in more depth than has ever been done before.  State by state, Judge Edwards reviews the statutory scheme on reasonable efforts, the existing case law on the subject and offers commentary from judges, attorneys, and other child welfare system stakeholders …

There is new material throughout the book—material that will hopefully assist judges in implementing meaningful oversight of social service actions as well as fulfilling their role as the community’s voice for the children appearing in juvenile court. Attorneys will also benefit from learning about reasonable efforts issues that have been raised in other jurisdictions as will appellate justices who encounter these issues regularly in appellate briefs. The ultimate goal of this book is to raise the level of practice so that children and families within the child welfare system will benefit.

The book considers the reasonable efforts finding from a number of perspectives including:

  1. It reviews the history of the reasonable efforts concept
  2. It explains the legal requirements on children’s services agencies
  3. It discusses the failure of federal legislation to define reasonable efforts and its impact
  4. It examines the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and “active efforts”
  5. It examines barriers that limit a judge or attorney’s ability to address the issue

This new edition is made possible by the generous support of the Casey Family Programs and is published by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), the nation’s largest and oldest judicial membership organization.

To purchase a copy from the NCJFCJ, please email or visit

Guest Interview Podcast on The Imprint, May 9, 2022

[First edition remains available for a limited time]

September 15, 2012

BOOK for Juvenile and Family Court Judges

by Judge Leonard Edwards, Retired
Available from
See a brief video interview on this topic. Also reviewed by Hon. Janice M. Rosa (ret.).]

BOOK REVIEW by Judge Margaret Henry

Juvenile Court is different and so are the ethics that apply to the judges who sit in Juvenile Court. I recall at an ethics training by CJER early in my Juvenile Court judicial career the instructor saying, “A judge may not accept a gift from any party, ever. No exceptions.” My hand shot up. She looked at me and repeated: “No exceptions.” I said: “What about a picture from an 8 year old autistic boy who is a dependent appearing in front of me?” She stared at me for a few seconds, and then said, “OK. There is an exception.”

There was nothing in writing at that time—more particularly, nothing in Judge David M. Rothman’s California Judicial Conduct Handbook that supported the position of an exception. Judge Rothman’s book is, of course, the gold standard of judicial ethics books. As comprehensive as it is, it does not detail the distinctions in the role of the Juvenile Court judge.

Judge Edwards’ new book explains the unique role of the Juvenile Court judge in the context of discussions of ethics. The book takes a very different approach, in structure and content, from California Judicial Conduct Handbook. Judge Edwards’ book uses hypothetical scenarios that Juvenile Court judges may encounter in their work on the bench, identifies practice and ethical issues, and proposes approaches, offering advice and solutions to the judicial officer. The focus is on practical, ethical issues that the Juvenile Court judicial officer encounters.

The book is well indexed and organized. It is divided into three parts: Running the Juvenile Court, Ex Parte Communications, and Working Off the Bench. Each has approximately 30 sections with several scenarios. The Table of Contents can be used to find an exact discussion of an issue facing a Juvenile Court judge.

The author of this book explains the unique role of the Juvenile Court judge and that judges must not shy away from the responsibilities that come with the role. The Introduction to the book should be mandatory reading for all new judges to the Juvenile Court. Experienced juvenile judges will read the Introduction and think, “Exactly. That explains the difference in our role.”

This is a book for specialists—Juvenile Court judges. It should be kept in easy reach of each of us in chambers, right next to the California Judicial Conduct Handbook.

June 17, 2022

Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective, 2nd Edition, Book Announcement

Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective, 2nd Edition, is made possible by the generous support of Casey Family Programs and is published by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), the nation’s largest and oldest judicial membership organization.

May 10, 2022

Guest Interview podcast on The Imprint, Youth & Family News

Judge Len Edwards joins The Imprint, an independent daily news outlet focused on the nation’s child welfare and youth justice systems, to talk about the “reasonable efforts” standards in child welfare policy, his book on that topic, the rise of relatives in the system, and the future of the Indian Child Welfare Act. 

May 9, 2022 Podcast Episode

January 13, 2021

Opinion: At-risk infants need our attention now more than ever

Opinion Section, Wednesday, 1/13/2021, The Mercury News

September 17, 2020

MAT in Juvenile Courts

Judge Edwards in video
Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Expansion Project in California Juvenile Courts
(Opens in new window)

The County Touchpoints in Access to MAT for Justice-Involved Populations project is focused on outreach, education, and training about opioid addiction and treatment in county criminal justice and human service systems. The project is managed by Health Management Associates and California Health Policies Strategies LLC. (Project overview site)

July 2, 2019

Collaborative Family Engagement

Texas CASA

Over the course of two days from March 7-8, Texas CASA brought together more than 150 CASA and CPS representatives, as well as child welfare partners, to take a deeper look at the Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) initiative. The 2019 CFE Symposium: Our Community was a transformative, motivational, momentum building learning event!

March 21, 2019

Active Efforts: A Discussion with a Native American Social Worker

Webinar on Feb 26, 2019
National Association of Counsel for Children

Vida Castaneda is a Senior Analyst in the Tribal/State Programs Unit with the Center for Families, Children & the Courts and has been employed by the Judicial Council of California since December 2005. She is multi-ethnic and descendant of the Chumash, Ohlone, Tarahumara and Zapotec tribes.

December 23, 2018

Let’s Outlaw Spanking Young Children in California

Editorial by Leonard Edwards, special to the San Jose Mercury News on December 23, 2018.

December 19, 2018

Evaluation of Los Angeles County’s Upfront Family Finding Pilot

Child Trends, the nation’s leading nonprofit research organization focused exclusively on improving the lives and prospects of children, youth, and their families, has published a study on Los Angeles County’s Upfront Family Finding Pilot program. The pilot has resulted in remarkable results for relative placement.

August 16, 2018

Family Finding and Relative Placement for Children Entering and in Foster Care

Legal determinations and judicial obligations for relative placement and family finding are required for all children in or entering foster care in both child welfare and juvenile justice proceedings.

May 6, 2018

Op-Ed on Judicial Independence

Other Voices: Why Judge Persky should not be recalled
April 25, 2018 Op-Ed piece in the Los Altos Town Crier

January 28, 2018

Resilience Trailer

Resilience Trailer – KPJR Films from KPJR FILMS LLC on Vimeo.

December 13, 2017

In Conversation with California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye

On November 28, 2017, the Chief Justice of California, Tani Cantil-Sakauye was the featured speaker in the 2017 Don Edwards Lecture at San Jose State University. She was introduced by SJSU President Mary Papazian and Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez. The conversation was moderated by retired Santa Clara County Superior Court judge Len Edwards.

May 16, 2017

Access Denied: National Snapshot of States’ Failure to Protect Children’s Right to Counsel

Access Denied: A National Snapshot of States’ Failure to Protect Children’s Right to Counsel (May 2017)
A new publication of the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDL)

February 5, 2017

County needs to help kids whose moms are in jail

County needs to help kids whose moms are in jail
Editorial by Leonard Edwards and Susan Eilenberg, who is a trustee of the San Jose Unified School District and member of the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women. They wrote this for the San Jose Mercury News, February 3, 2017.

In response, a letter to the Editor:
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: February 7, 2017

Thanks to Judge Len Edwards and Susan Ellenberg for highlighting the need “to help kids whose moms are in jail” (Opinion, Feb. 3). Studies show parental incarceration has a profound impact on children due to the trauma of separation, the secrecy that often surrounds it, the stigma the child feels, and the financial hardships that can result in lifelong poverty. There is also data to show that a father’s incarceration has a particularly negative influence on boys who are more likely to have increased juvenile delinquency and are less likely to complete college.

We need to implement Edwards’ and Ellenberg’s recommended steps to decrease incarceration of mothers. We also need to design a support system for families affected by incarceration that includes programs to encourage parentchild connection, social-emotional support for children, and financial supports that relieve the chronic stress of having a missing wage-earner.

Dana Bunnett
Director, Kids in Common Planned Parenthood Mar Monte

August 14, 2016

Helping Pregnant Women Gain Early Treatment

Editorial by Leonard Edwards and Balaji Govindaswami, special to the San Jose Mercury News on August 12, 2016.

August 7, 2016

Why Should Indian Children be Treated Differently?

Why Should Indian Children be Treated Differently?
The NACC Guardian, Vol 38 · No 06 (August 2016), a publication of the National Association of Counsel for Children.

Attacks on implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) have recently been in the headlines. Several critics of the ICWA have stated that Indian Children should not be treated differently in child welfare and adoption proceedings.

Despite these attacks, there are compelling reasons why the ICWA should be fully implemented. This article outlines some of the reasons for full implementation and argues that there are important reasons why Native American children should receive special treatment in the courts.

June 19, 2016

Child Advocates of Silicon Valley’s 30th Anniversary

Judge Edwards with CASA of Silicon Valley Exec. Director Karen Scussel

(Los Altos Town Crier, June 15, 2016)
Los Altos Hills resident Judge Leonard Edwards, pictured with Child Advocates of Silicon Valley Executive Director Karen Scussel, was among six CASA Heroes and Legends recognized May 21 at the organization’s 30th anniversary gala.

See the article.

February 23, 2016

Reluctant Mother: a courtroom dramatization

A Judge Questions a Reluctant Monther about Paternity

September 20, 2015

California Tribal Court–State Court Forum

The California Tribal Court–State Court Forum has issued its September 2015 E-Update.

July 20, 2015

Using the Reasonable Efforts Tool to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families

J. Robert Lowenbach, a retired Colorado district judge and currently a consultant on child trauma and court improvement, cites Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective in the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC)’s The Guardian (Oct./Nov. 2014, reprinted by permission) as a resource for child advocates.

May 18, 2015

Inside the secret court that helps victims of drug abuse keep their families together

This is a recent article on the London Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC), which has been pioneering a new approach to child protection cases in which one or both parents have drug or alcohol problems.

May 18, 2015

Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings

These updated guidelines provide guidance to State courts and child welfare agencies implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act’s (ICWA) provisions in light of written and oral comments received during a review of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Guidelines for State Courts in Indian Child Custody Proceedings published in 1979. They also reflect recommendations made by the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence and significant developments in jurisprudence since ICWA’s inception.

March 19, 2015

Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective

Addressing the Bar Association of San Francisco on February 18, 2015

March 9, 2015

Family Drug and Alcohol Court in the UK

Family Drug and Alcohol Court, initiated in England in 2008, has been extended throughout England and Wales. The Feb. 18, 2015 news article posted on the UK Family Law Week site is available here.

February 5, 2015

Reasonable Efforts Revived

Reasonable Efforts: A Judicial Perspective is noted as a resource on the Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) blog. IFPS provides intensive, in-home crisis intervention, counseling, and life-skills education for families who have children at imminent risk of placement in state-funded care.

December 17, 2014

AP IMPACT: Abused kids die as authorities fail to protect

The Associated Press has published results of its six-year, multi-state study of child fatalities while in protective services—a disturbing report for juvenile court judges.

December 4, 2014

ACEs Too High

The ACEs Too High website grows out of research by Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente showing that “Adverse Childhood Experiences” (abuse, neglect, parental divorce, etc) correlates closely with chronic illness in adulthood, including autoimmune disorders, heart disease, some types of cancer, COPD, as well as depression and other mental health conditions.

The ACE study is described on the CDC’s website. A video trailer can be seen on the ACEs Too High Resources page.

November 4, 2014

Book Review of The Role of the Juvenile Court Judge: Practice and Ethics

The Hon. Janice M. Rosa (ret.) reviews Judge Edwards’ book The Role of the Juvenile Court Judge: Practice and Ethics.
October 2014,  Family Court Review: An Interdisciplinary Journal

November 4, 2014

Reaching Your Peak: Reasonable Efforts and Children’s Attorneys

A brief op-ed piece posted on the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) Blog
November 3, 2014, NACC Blog