State Summaries



Table of Contents

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Delaware | District of Columbia | Florida | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | North Carolina | North Dakota | Oklahoma | Oregon | Puerto Rico | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming |




Alabama


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Alabama

The goal of the CIP Grant is to streamline juvenile court procedures and processes so that children adjudicated dependent may be placed in safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.  The basic CIP grant has an advisory committee comprised of Judges and various child welfare stakeholders.

There were numerous activities related to the Basic CIP grant.


Title IV-E Eligibility Activities

Juvenile Dependency Caseflow Management seminars were held in November, 2011 and the Permanency for Children in Alabama sessions were held on December 9 and 16, 2011.  Participants were reminded of the importance of ensuring the following items were included in the dependency orders:  hearing dates on all orders; ratify, by an original signature of the judge, a hearing that is heard by a referee; and, the need to avoid using signature stamps.
Training
Training:  Other Training

Continued Assessment of Juvenile and Family Courts

The Alabama AOC Reassessed 22 juvenile and family court sties prior to 2005; between then and this calendar year, they have continued the assessment activities in the remaining 46 court sties.  Assessments consisted of: 1) Interviewing/Surveying judges, docketing personnel, attorney’s, child welfare workers, GAL’s & CASA’s, as well as foster parents; and, 2) Reviewing juvenile dependency and termination of parental rights case files and observing court in dependency/TPR cases.  Data gathered is currently being compiled and a report on each county will be made using a form showing the strengths and weaknesses.  This data will be used as a baseline to compare with data gathered in future years to see if the courts have improved their processing of cases.
Hearing Quality and Depth
Hearing Quality and Depth: Pilot Projects and Model Courts

Probate/Juvenile Subcommittee on Adoption Issues

The Subcommittee on Adoption Issues was formed to bring Juvenile Court judges and Probate Court judges together to discuss issues that may arise in processing adoption cases.  Two major issues discussed by this multidisciplinary subcommittee included information sharing and better communications between the two courts.  A survey will be sent to the courts to determine if these forms are being used and to determine if the courts are communicating more effectively.
Community Collaboration


Dependency Drug Court Programs
 

As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, Alabama has instituted several Dependency Drug Courts.  The main purpose is to expedite drug cases involving parents of children in dependency cases so that permanency can be achieved faster.
 
Juvenile Drug Courts are established as two types:  Juvenile Delinquency Drug Courts and Family Dependency Drug Courts.  Family Dependency Drug Courts are an integrated, court-based collaboration that provide for long-term counseling, intensive case management, and frequent court appearances.  These programs provide infants and children whose health and welfare may be adversely affected by parental use of drugs and/or alcohol with a mechanism that will strengthen the family unit, enhance parental capacity to meet the health and development needs of their children, and expedite permanency for the infants and children in state care.  Successful completion of the program provides parents with the skills necessary to rebuild their lives.  Through proactive intervention by the court, higher rates of reunification occur and children spend less time in care.
 
Prior to July 2009, there were six Juvenile Delinquency Drug Courts and five Family Dependency Drug Courts operating in eight counties.  Through an appropriation from the Alabama Legislature, funds were made available to begin or maintain existing drug courts.  There are currently 13 Juvenile Delinquency Drug Courts and 12 Family Dependency Drug Courts operating in Alabama. 
Treatment of Parties
Treatment of Parties: Other Initiatives
 

Domestic Violence and Maltreatment Cases

Alabama formed a committee comprised of Administrative Office of the Court (AOC) Family Court Division staff, a coordinator of a local domestic violence shelter, a Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) who specializes in juvenile/domestic violence issues, and staff of the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence to discuss the guidelines in Effective Intervention in Domestic Violence & Child Maltreatment Cases: Guidelines for Policy and Practice.  The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges published this book.  A summit will be planned to train on the publication so that stakeholders in the dependency case process will be better informed on how to screen for domestic violence.
Community Collaboration
Training
Training: Other Training

Certification and Recertification Training

The AOC continues to conduct GAL certification and recertification training in order to fulfill the requirements of 42 U.S. C.A Section 51-6(b)(2)(B)(xiii) that all GALs must be trained as to their role.  The AOC conducted both the 6-hour and 2-hour sessions several time over the 2011 calendar year.  As of December 2011, 1345 attorneys were certified as GALs.  It is thought this certification and recertification training will result in better representation for children.
Community Collaboration
Training
Training: Other Training

Notice Policy

In November 2009, CIP staff members distributed an email to Juvenile and Family Court judges containing the instructions provided to counties on how to work with the courts to ensure notice and a right to be heard is afforded to foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, and relative caregivers.  Each county agency director was instructed to initiate discussion of the policy with the Juvenile or Family Court judge and his or her designee, any local licensing agency personnel, and the county/regional Foster and Adoptive Parent Association leadership.  If the county did not have a written local protocol in place, the county agency director was to discuss ideas and plans for creating one to ensure effective implementation of these important elements of permanency planning.  If any county had an existing protocol, the court agency director was instructed to provide a copy of it as input into developing general guidelines and expectations for the development of local court/department notification and right to be heard protocols.
 
Once all the county protocols are reviewed and finalized to the satisfaction of state child welfare agency and AOC staff, decisions will be made whether or not the state policy on notification to foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, and relative caregivers needs to be revised.  If the state policy is revised, it will be distributed to the county agency directors and judges and discussed as a possible topic for future training for judges, agency staff, and foster parents.
Notice to and Participation of Parties
Notice to and Participation of Parties: Notice


Juvenile Technology Committee

The Alabama CIP staff continues to work with the Juvenile Technology Committee and is using the CIP Data Collection and Analysis Grant for the work of this Committee.  Most activities centered on the development of the JUPITIR (Juvenile Probation/Intake/Treatment/Integrated/Resources) and E-Appellate systems, and include the following:
 
• Juvenile Technology Committee.  The Juvenile Technology Committee is the statewide multidisciplinary task force that meets to review the CIP Data Collection and Analysis Grant, set standards for data collection, and has ongoing collaboration among members to determine if the outcomes of safety, permanency, and well-being for children in foster care are being met through data collection and analysis.  Committee members include judges, circuit clerks, Juvenile Court staff, state child welfare agency representatives, a representative of Alabama’s only federally recognized Tribe (Poarch Band of Creek Indians), and other stakeholders.

• Chief Probation Officer Meetings.  From January 31 through February 4, 2011, four separate meetings primarily for Chief Probation Officers were held.  In addition to the an AOC update and a segment on the Juvenile Probation Officer Standards for Certification and Policies and Procedures, the majority of the time was devoted to discussing local issues and problem solving.
 
• Sharing data systems between the child welfare agency and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).  On May 23, 2011, AOC staff and State DHR staff met to discuss further the sharing of data between the offices and to follow-up with the CIP meeting held on May 9-10 in Arlington, VA, using the handouts from the plenary sessions and the Termination of Parental Rights workgroup.  The following are the items resulting from the May 23rd meeting:  (1)  Much of the data needed (permanency hearings being held within 12 months of removal of the child from the home and permanency plans as of June 1, 2011) would come from already existing reports from State DHR’s automated tracking system (Family, Adult and Child Tracking System (FACTS)) that State DHR staff believe could be easily queried; (2) A potential study on timeliness of achieving permanency could be designed  using the data above – by having three “control” counties and three “target” counties.  In such a study, any meetings between juvenile court judges and county DHR directors in these counties to “train” and discuss data sharing that are arranged would be day meetings involving a few counties so that costs should not be extremely high; (3) If this kind of study design is implemented, strategies for any work done in those counties would be mutually-decided upon at such day meeting(s), and, in so doing, AOC and State DHR would thus be able to determine the level of resources that can be committed to the work; and (4) In conducting such study, there might be an opportunity to access some Federal funds such as Adoption Incentive monies, though it would need to explored further.  Once these projects are finalized and have been used over several months, data obtained before and after implementation of these projects measuring the safety, permanency, and well being of children in care will be compared to determine if children in care have better outcomes as a result of exchanging data


• Developing and implementing enhancements to the Juvenile Management Information System (MIS) for dependency cases that are compliant with federal and state statutes and court rules.  Meetings were held with the AOC Information Technology (IT) staff to define specifications for enhancements to the Juvenile MIS.  A screen was developed to enter data on petition filing dates, hearing dates, notice dates, dispositions, etc.  Staff in 13 counties used this screen to enter the data during calendar year 2011.  In addition, a manual was developed to assist these counties in entering the data.  Data from these counties will be collected and analyzed to ascertain if the federal and state timeframes for certain events are being met, if parties and foster parents are receiving notice of hearings, and if continuances are being kept at a minimum.
 
Other developments to the Juvenile MIS include updating charge codes, disposition codes, court action codes, and petition statements.  In addition, Juvenile Probation/Intake/Treatment/Integrated/Resources (JUPITIR) was created, as a system to meet the multifaceted job functions required of a Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO).  JUPITIR will integrate data from numerous agencies to assist JPOs in information gathering, compiling, and distribution so the JPOs will be better able to make fair decisions.  It will also assist JPOs with case management, accountability, and investigating and assessing each offender, as well as recommending appropriate dispositions.  JPO administrative support assistants also may use JUPITIR.  Program development field-testing was conducted in one county during 2011.  A user manual for JUPITIR was also developed.  Currently, JUPITIR is live in 39 counties and is expected to be live in 65 of 67 counties by February 2012.  The remaining two counties are expected to be live by the Summer of 2012.  Approximately 142 persons were trained on the JUPITIR system during Calendar Year 2011.  Some of these training sessions were funded through the CIP Training Grant.

• Developing professional education materials for system stakeholders.  During 2011, AOC IT staff members provided training on different aspects of the Juvenile MIS during training sessions for Chief Probation Officers, new JPOs, circuit clerks, court specialists, and administrative support assistants.

•      E-Appellate.  Effective October 2010, the Supreme Court of Alabama adopted Rule 57, Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure, formerly called the “Interim Electronic Filing and Service Rule,” to provide uniform practices and procedures to govern the electronic filing and service within the Alabama appellate courts.  AOC staff members met in October and December 2009, as well as several times in 2010, to discuss Juvenile Court appeals through the E-Appellate system.  Effective December 13, 2010, this system was active for Juvenile (JU) Court cases appealed to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals or the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.  All counties have been trained on how to use E-Appellate and should be using this application daily.
Technology
Technology: Data Collection
Technology: Information Sharing


Training and Educational Programs

The Alabama CIP staff, through the CIP Training and Basic Grants, has worked on the following projects:
 
•      New Judges Training.  Training for ten newly-elected or appointed Juvenile and Family Court judges and two newly appointed juvenile court referees was conducted in February, April and December, 2011.  Topics covered included subject matter jurisdiction in Juvenile Courts; an overview of federal child welfare laws and case law; an overview of Juvenile Dependency and Termination of Parental Rights process; a description of the CIP, the Child and Family Services Review, and the State Quality Assurance process; distribution of sample court orders; suggestions for good court practice and management; and presentations by departments and agencies that provide services to families and children.

• Juvenile Court Intake Officer Training. During Calendar Year 2011, several training sessions were held for juvenile court intake officers who are defined in Ala.Code 1975, Section 12-15-102(11), as “[a] juvenile probation officer or an employee of the judicial branch of government, who is neutral and detached from executive and legislative branch activities, designated by the juvenile court judge to initiate original delinquency, dependency, and children in need of supervision cases, as well as cases designated in Section 12-15-132 before the juvenile court. . .”  Over 55 officers were trained.  The goal of these training sessions is to have better trained and informed juvenile court intake officers so that petitions in the above types of cases, including dependency cases, would not be filed unnecessarily.


•      Administrative Support Assistant Training.  The CIP conducted training for administrative support assistants in late fall 2011.  Topics included maintaining a balance in the workplace and juvenile law updates, a segment on Operation Save Teens, and sessions on grammar glitches, as well as foster care initiatives, JUPITIR updates and their role in achieving permanency for children.

• Juvenile and Family Court Judges and Referee Retreats.  Between February and March, 2011, inaugural retreats were conducted.  Sessions included major legal issues including, subject matter jurisdiction, 72-hour shelter care hearings, timely filing of juvenile petitions, cases which must be processed through the juvenile court intake office verse the circuit clerk’s office, transfer between juvenile courts and court costs in juvenile cases.

•      Juvenile Court Judge/Referee; Probate Court Judge; DHR Attorney Training.   In December 2011 The AOC and Alabama DHR collaborated on conducting a seminar entitled “Permanency for Children in Alabama.”  75 juvenile court judges, probate court judges and DHR attorney’s attended sessions focused on adoption law,  termination of parental rights, creating a good record for appeal, expert testimony in severe physical/sexual abuse, and title IV-E requirements in court orders and Child and Family Services Review.
 
• Chief Probation Officer Retreat.  A Chief Probation Officer Retreat was held in December 2011.   The Retreat primarily consisted of updates from the Administrative Director of Courts, as well as AOC’s Human Resources and Information Technology Divisions, a session on the Interstate Compact for Juveniles (ICJ) from DYS staff, and a question and answer time with the Legal Advisor of the AOC Family Court Division.  A total of 36 attended this Retreat.

• Seminar on Operation Street Smart.  In December 2011, a seminar was conducted entitled Operation Street Smart primarily for juvenile court judges, juvenile probation officers, and Juvenile and Family Drug Court personnel.  A total of 79 persons attended this training.  The goal of Street Smart was to provide current and up-to-date narcotics information on trends, terminology, paraphernalia, and physiological effects to those individuals who deal with today’s youth on a daily basis. 

• Domestic Relations Judges Retreat.  During November 2011, a Domestic Relations Judges Retreat was held.  Topics included self-represented litigants; identifying issues related to domestic violence in divorce; issues relating to potential use of custody evaluations; panel discussions on stress, burnout and vicarious trauma, maximizing data systems and case management practices.  10 domestic relations judges attended.

• Juvenile/Family Drug Court Coordinators Meeting.  In November 2011, a specific session was conducted for the coordinators of the Juvenile and Family Drug Court programs.  This session primarily covered some of the more notable items in their Memoranda of Understanding with AOC; the charging of participant fees and how to properly account for them; the key elements of a Juvenile/Family Drug Court; the proper procedure for handling violations of Drug Court “rules” or orders; and confidentiality issues, including distribution of suggested consent forms.
Training and Education
Training and Education: Judicial Training
Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training
Training and Education: Other Training


Indigent Defense Issues

The CIP staff has met with the Director of the AOC Legal Division and staff attorney to discuss juvenile indigent defense issues.  They drafted a bill to amend current Alabama indigent defense statutes and to create the Alabama Indigent Defense Commission as an independent agency of the judicial branch to ensure indigent children and parents are adequately represented.  The bill was introduced in the 2011 Regular Legislative Session and passed as Act No. 2011-678
Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders
Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders: State Legislation


Reprinting of Child Welfare Law Books

In 2011, Basic CIP Grant funds were used to subsidize part of the reprinting of the book, “Child Welfare Laws of Alabama,” last updated in 2009.  The books were updated due to several law and court rule changes which included passage of the kinship Guardianship Subsidy Act, Uniform Adult Guardianship Protective Proceedings Jurisdictional Act, Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act, the Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation Act, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, and revised/new Rules of Juvenile Procedure, as well as changes to other statues in the 2009 edition.
Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders: State Legislation


Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) Protocol

During Calendar year 2009, DHR staff developed a protocol for county DHR staff to follow in trying to expedite the processing of home studies conducted in other states.  IN 2011, meetings have been held to try to execute the ICPC order Agreement between one of Alabama’s counties and several counties in the State of Georgia.  Final approval of the border agreement is pending.  After final approval is obtained, training will be conducted for relevant staff and a plot will begin.  If the pilot is successful, it could be expanded to all the counties of the Alabama-Georgia border sometime in 2012.
Community Collaboration




Alaska


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Alternative Dispute Resolution

 

The Alaska Court Improvement Project (CIP) successfully expanded its mediation and family group conference program to Juneau in 2009 and has continued to develop this programThe Mediation and Facilitation Services Manager organized a Family Group Conference (FGC) training in Juneau in April 2011.  A particular focus of this outreach has been to include the local Tribe in all trainings and discussions, including holding joint professional development meetings with our FGC Coordinators and the Tribe’s Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM) staff.  Sessions included historical trauma as well as the role of children and youth in FGC/FGDM.  Both mediation and FGC have been well received as decision-making processes for a wide range of issues.  Judicial support for these processes remains strong in Juneau.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

 

 

Substance Abuse Issues

 

As reported in prior Court Improvement Project Reports, research indicates that permanency often is delayed because parents cannot access timely substance abuse treatment.  The SHIELDS program was established in Anchorage in 2010 and involves parents living with their children and accessing wrap-around services delivered on site.  An assessment was completed in 2011 to research and identify current state resources.  In the coming year, Alaska looks to implement the business plan for the SHIELDS-Alaska Project.

Treatment of Parties

Treatment of Parties: Other Initiatives

 

Transition to Independent Living

 

The Independent Living Subcommittee was established in 2009 to study the housing needs of youth transitioning out of care and to identify barriers to independent living housing.  The subcommittee reviewed the number of youth eligible for independent living services, the number of youth re-entering custody, new laws regarding age and youth re-entering custody, housing options that currently exist in the state, and funding (IV-E, SSI, foster care payments, etc.).  The subcommittee is now reviewing the legal, policy and practice aspects of the regulations and expects to issue recommendations within the year on overcoming barriers and increasing independent living housing options.

Treatment of Parties

Treatment of Parties: Other Initiatives

 

Alaska Native Child Welfare Implementation Grant

 

As reported in 2009 and 2010, the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska are leading a collaboration designed to reduce disproportionate representation of Alaska Native children in care.  The CIP Director continued to attend meetings and collaborate with the group throughout 2011. 

Treatment of Parties

Treatment of Parties: Other Initiatives

 

Therapeutic Courts

 

The CIP continues to support the Anchorage CINA Therapeutic Court, which included an evaluation in 2010 and CIP created a subcommittee to discuss implementation of the recommendations.  Initial meetings revealed a need for support from the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare which will include a values inventory and an on-site visit in January 2012.

Treatment of Parties

Treatment of Parties: Other Initiatives

 

Rural Issues

 

In August 2010, a subcommittee was formed to explore solutions for problems unique to rural areas, with a focus on technological solutions.  The subcommittee is exploring video, web cameras, remote monitoring devices, and other creative technological solutions.  The next step will be to look at the existing technology available to court and social services statewide.  The subcommittee plans to measure the success/outcomes of family contact and other services at the village level. 

 

At the same time, the ICWA subcommittee raised concerns telephonic appearances by parties.  Initial research revealed that procedures vary significantly by court location and by individual judge.  Although the procedures used by each judge are well known to the local practitioners, parties or participants from other towns or judicial districts can become confused.  In response, it was agreed that the CIP director and the ICWA subcommittee would draft a checklist of best practices and reminders that can be used by all parties to ensure that everyone has a chance to speak and participate fully.  Additionally, the CIP director will contact all judicial officers who handle CINA hearings and will publish information about their procedures to enable parties from anywhere in the state to know what to do in each case in which they participate telephonically.

Technology

 

Information Materials for Children

 

As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, a CIP subcommittee developed materials for youth in care to increase their knowledge of the CINA court process in Alaska and to prepare them to appear in court.  The booklet was published and distributed to youth by GALs in fall 2010.  Due to high demand, additional copies were printed and distributed during the year.    

Treatment of Parties

Treatment of Parties: Information to Parties

 

Permanency Roundtables

 

Alaska CIP initiated a Permanency Roundtable design process in August this year in partnership with OCS and Casey Family Programs.  Juneau was chosen as the pilot site.  An orientation and permanency values training were held in advance of the actual roundtables, which occurred in June 2011.  CIP members from Juneau reported that the roundtables were well-utilized and appeared to be effective.  Monitoring will be ongoing by OCS and Casey, with reports back to CIP.

Treatment of Parties

Treatment of Parties: Other Initiatives

 

Training and Education Initiatives

 

The following programs were supported through the Alaska CIP Training Grant:

 

Child Protection Academy.  CIP took initial steps to determine the feasibility of creating an Alaskan child protection academy that would offer training to legal parties year-round, both in-person and through distance learning.  CIP is collaborating with the Director of the University of Alaska OCS Training Academy.  

Training and Education

Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training

 

Fall 2010 Statewide, Interdisciplinary Conference.  At the request of the Chief Justice and the CIP Director, the Department of Law/Public Defender Agency/Office of Public Advocacy co-sponsored a statewide, interagency CINA conference on October 6, 2010 for the benefit of child protection attorneys, defense attorneys, tribal representatives, GALs and judges.  Approximately 300 participants attended the conference.

Training and Education

Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training

 

Development of a Child Protection Core Curriculum and ICWA Curriculum.  The Education subcommittee has begun work on a core curriculum for legal parties in CINA cases.  This work is expected to take 1-2 years, with the final product being multiple “modules” that can be delivered either in-person or via distance learning.   

 

The Education subcommittee and the ICWA subcommittee created an interdisciplinary core curriculum on ICWA that was piloted at the fall statewide, interdisciplinary conference.  During the remaining part of the year, the subcommittee further refined the curriculum.

Training and Education

Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training

 

Training for ICWA Workers and Tribal Judges.  CIP continued to work with the BIA to ensure that ICWA workers receive basic and advanced training related to effective representation in court.  CIP also helped arrange for state court judges to present at ICWA trainings and at two tribal court conferences.  At the invitation of the BIA’s tribal court training contractor, the CIP director assisted with curriculum planning for the Anchorage tribal court conference.  A decision issued in the spring by the Alaska Supreme Court recognized tribal court jurisdiction to initiate child protection proceedings.

Community Collaboration 

Community Collaboration: Partnership with Tribes

 

Training for OCS Employees.  CIP sponsored members of the OCS management team to attend the conference on substance abuse and child welfare in September 2011.  

Training and Education

Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training

 

Data Collection and Analysis Initiatives

 

CIP is following the data grant strategic plan by identifying CINA-related issues and Alaska-specific needs; utilizing collaboration among the CIP Committee and

stakeholder agencies; analyzing the case management system to improve time-specific outcomes for children and families; and creating performance improvement measures.  

CIP used funds from the Data Collection and Analysis Grant to improve data collection and management of CINA (Child-in-Need-of-Aid) cases.

 

CINA Enhancements  to Case Management System.  The last court location to convert to CourtView, a statewide case management system, occurred at the end of September 2010.  The CINA CMS Analyst works closely with clerks and judicial assistants on how to properly enter CINA case information into CourtView, answering HelpDesk calls daily and working with court staff on CourtView questions, case processing issues, and report requests.  The CMS Analyst works extensively with all courts on data entry issues and monitors audit reports to ensure that data is entered accurately.  Since many benchmark orders are filed in linked sibling cases, the CMS Analyst created a new Multi-Petition screen to allow staff to create a petition/order and apply it to multiple linked cases for greater efficiency in accuracy in establishing and disposing of cases.  

Technology

Technology: Computerized Scheduling and Orders

 

Audit and Management Reports.  Judicial officers requested a case management report to show case information, hearing history, party and attorney information, and benchmark timeframes.  The report is quickly generated in chambers by entering a case number.  The Anchorage court now regularly reviews post-termination and recently closed cases every two weeks.  Further, in partnership with OCS, a new special code was created in CourtView in order to report on “notice of compelling reasons.”  

Technology

Technology: Data Collection

 

Performance Standards.  The CIP Committee began to study the idea of performance measurement and timeliness measures in child protection cases.  Preliminary consideration was followed by a presentation on this subject to the CIP committee in December 2011 by the National Center for State Courts.   Alaska currently reviews CINA cases 16 months and older that are lacking termination petitions and notice of compelling reasons to ensure that cases do not languish. 

Technology

Technology: Data Collection

 

E-Filing.  The Alaska Court System (ACS) is beginning discussion of a new e-filing project.  The CINA CMS Analyst attended several meetings with the ACS Administrative Director and CMS staff to discuss the court priorities and most pressing business needs related to e-filing. CINA cases may be a good pilot project as the cases are initiated by the filing of a petition from a state agency. 

Technology

 

 




Arizona


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Arizona

www.supreme.state.az.us/dcsd/improve

Basic Grant

With funds from the Court Improvement Project (CIP) Basic Grant, the Arizona CI Program (CI Program) worked on the following objectives:

Building relationships with Arizona Tribes.

Several Tribal representatives are part of the Court Improvement (CI) Advisory Workgroup (AWG).  Tribal representatives also participated in CI-sponsored judicial and attorney training events.  Other specific collaborative initiatives include the following:
 
•  The CI sponsored the April 2011 training entitled “Connecting Legacies – Working Hand in Hand with ICWA.”  Judges, attorneys, agency staff, Tribal participants and court staff were invited to attend this one-day training.  This was a collaboration with the Casey Family Programs, DCYF and the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona.
• There has been increased Tribal representation at CIP educational events, specifically at Judges training and the Connecting Legacies event. A two-hour segment has been added to the curriculum for Judges training which will focus on the ICWA and Tribal issues. 
• CI tracked each county courts compliance with requirements to inquire about the applicability of the ICWA for a particular case and, where applicable, to make findings and enter orders pursuant to the requirements of ICWA.  During round four of the Operational Review in 2011, 100% of cases reviewed were in compliance at the Preliminary Protective hearing, 55% were in compliance at the Review Hearing and 81% were in compliance at the Permanency Hearing.

Dually involved youth. 

CI worked with several stakeholders, including juvenile court judges and administration, in the development and delivery of the September 2011 event entitled Domestic Violence – Connecting the Dots.  There were 250 participants who were exposed to best practices in addressing domestic violence, an issue that touches children and families involved in juvenile dependency and delinquency.  Materials and video from the symposium can be accessed through the CE website at:  http://www.azcourts.gov/improve/ConnectingtheDotsTraining.aspx .

Educational Outcomes

CI began to work with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) to explore the possibility of measuring educational well being of children in care. CI convened a small group with judicial and child welfare representatives from Maricopa and Pima Counties to discuss a possible pilot in one or both county courts. Maricopa County is not currently able to move forward with such a pilot. Pima County has expressed an interest in the pilot but wanted to wait until they received word regarding an education related grant for which they recently applied. Pima County has since learned that they will not receive the grant but are still expressing an interest in the pilot. CI will continue to work with NCSC and Pima County court staff regarding the potential for a future pilot to measure education related outcomes.

The Pima County Juvenile Court Center (PCJCC) continues to convene an Education Committee which is made up of approximately 100 participants representing numerous school districts.  The committee sponsors up to four educational forums each year which highlight positive programs in the community and focus on efforts to keep children in school and identifying alternatives to suspension and expulsion.  he committee reported on several recent successes including:
− The PCC 6th Annual Career Day included a record 130 youth.
− PCC hosted a Career and College Readiness Class for detained youth. The class
− allowed these youth to be enrolled in PCC and to earn 1⁄2 credit hours for the time
− spent in the class.
− TUSD provided summer school and bus passes for dependent and delinquent
− youth under the court’s jurisdiction.
− They coordinated over 500 hours of tutoring for TUSD court involved youth.
− PCJCC education volunteers have done direct educational advocacy with youth at
− Children’s Village Group Home.
− PCJCC Education Volunteers provide access for detained youth to the Arizona Career Information System (AzCIS) and have trained detention staff to access this site in order to assist with their work with the youth.
− They worked with TUSD to start an alternative middle school program called CORE Plus that started in November 2011. The referrals for the program will come for youth that are at least 2 grade levels behind academically.

The Arizona Supreme Court sent a small team to a recent summit held on November 3-4, 2011, in Washington D.C. entitled Child Welfare, Education and the Courts. Individuals in attendance from Arizona represented the state court, child welfare and education systems. This group met to discuss and draft an action plan, the goals from which will be added to the CI strategic plan to be submitted with the FY2012 application:
− Ask educational questions at critical points in the child welfare case;
− Obtain school records in a timely manner;
− Develop effective policy and procedures regarding educational surrogacy issues; and,
− Provide children transportation to their designated school.

Operational Reviews

Arizona Court Improvement continues to administer the Operational Review3 process in county courts throughout the state. This process serves as a tool to measure the efforts of county courts in their compliance with federal and state statute as well as court rules of procedure. The fourth round of county operational reviews was initiated in September of 2010 and, up to December 2011, compliance information on ten of the counties reviewed was available.  One of the key measures shows an overall increase in the percentage of Preliminary Protective Hearings held within the statutory time frame of 5 to 7 days from the removal of the child – 97% in round four versus 93% in round three.
Community Collaboration
Hearing Quality and Depth
Timeliness of Decisions
Training and Education
Training and Education: Judicial Training
Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training
    

Data Collection and Analysis Grant

The CI Program has worked on the following objectives with the Data Collection and Analysis Grant:

JOLTS (Juvenile Online Tracking System)

Quality Assurance and Data Reporting.  The CI Information Specialist continues to work with each county on data integrity. By providing monthly quality assurance reporting, the CI Information Specialist communicates with key representatives from each county who are responsible for the entry of data into the juvenile dependency data tracking system. County users now have access to “data” and “quality assurance” reporting and are able to run these same reports as needed.
 
Dependency Reporting with JOLTSaz.   With the rollout of JOLTSaz (new data tracking system for the juvenile court), rural counties will be given the capacity to enter data in support of additional reporting.  JOLTSaz will include six embedded reports for counties to utilize throughout a case, including (1) Juvenile Profile; (2) Family Petition Profile; (3) Attorney Assignments; (4) Allegations and Findings; (5) Severance Motions/Petitions; and (6) Phase, Event, and Motions.
 
Reporting.  The summary report that will mark times to key dependency benchmarks (time to first adjudication, first permanency hearing, termination of parental rights, and permanency placement) is still under development. CI is able to run statewide reporting on several measures:  Average number of days to the first finding of dependency; Percent of petitions in which the Preliminary Protective Hearing was held within 5-7 days from the child’s removal; Percent of petitions for which the Permanency Hearing was held within twelve months of the child’s removal; Number of children with open petitions on the last day of the fiscal year; Average number of days in the system for cases closing during the fiscal year; and, Number of petitions filed.

Information Exchange between AOC and DCYF

Collaborative Efforts.  A committee has been empanelled and has begun to meet to discuss information exchange between the courts and the child welfare agency.

Fostering Court Improvement.  County dependency caseflow management teams continue to have access to the FCI State Website and, in particular, Arizona AFCARS data maintained on the site. Representatives from Fostering Court Improvement, the sponsor of the FCI State Website, did not have access to updated information from DCYF for much of the calendar year. There was difficulty renewing the data sharing agreements that would allow FCI to continue to receive the AFCARS data from DCYF. This has since been resolved and the most current data is, once again, available through the website. Because of this delay and the outdated information that was on the site, aside from some historical significance, the information was not useful to county caseflow team members. CI will, once again, encourage county caseflow teams to utilize this information as needed to enhance their local efforts.

State Wide Identifier

Successes to implement the use of a statewide, or common, identifier can be separated into two different efforts:

Within the Court.  The use of the SWID has now been implemented in
the juvenile court data tracking systems used throughout the state. Pima County’s complete implementation occurred on 3/14/11. This was quickly followed by Apache and Navajo Counties on 3/28/11 and the remaining “rural” counties on 4/11/11. Efforts to finalize the implementation of the SWID in Maricopa County, the last and largest county, were completed on 10/1/11. The implementation of the SWID for each juvenile in the court system makes the tracking of that juvenile more effective and efficient.

Between the Court and DCYF.  Efforts are well underway to place a SWID, or “common identifier” in each of these systems. This project has been broken down into two phases:
• Phase I, Identifier Sharing Process – Utilization of identifiers to ensure identification of a child whose information resides in both the court and child welfare data tracking systems is the goal of this phase. In order for each system’s identifier to be stored in a child’s record, a basic set of data will need to be utilized to ensure positive identification of the same child in both systems: First Name; Middle Name; Last Name; Date of Birth; Gender. Once the “matching” process is complete, each child’s record will contain an identifier from the both the court and child welfare systems. Key personnel from the Court and DCYF (both administrators and information technology staff) have met and are committed to this effort moving forward. Work has begun on the data sharing agreements that will need to be in place before the basic, but necessary, identifying information is shared between the two systems.
• Phase II, Data Sharing Process – Interest has been expressed in the sharing of several data elements. The benefit of completing the Identifier Sharing Process would be the potential for exchange of critical information including: court hearing dates; child welfare placement; IV-E findings; status of multi- system youth (awareness at time of arrest or other initial court involvement). CI will provide funding for a contractor to review the laws and rules of court as well as national data exchange practices in order to make recommendations for the changes necessary to make inter-agency data sharing a reality.

Interstate Placement of Children

Courtroom Teleconferencing Capabilities.  The CI Information Specialist has been working with county courts over the past two years to ensure that they have appropriate teleconferencing capabilities in courtrooms in which juvenile dependency matters are heard. CI identified six counties that required additional equipment. Through agreements with each county, CI funding was used to purchase the equipment necessary to engage out of state parties in juvenile dependency hearings via teleconference.

Judicial Training.  The ICPC policy of the child welfare agency has been added to the curriculum for the Dependency 101 training for Judges. A DCYF representative reviewed this policy with judges at the May 2011 training.

Border States.  While the CI Program Manager has communicated with CI managers in bordering states, there has been no specific efforts undertaken related to the ICPC. The CI Program Manager will continue to work with DCYF staff and, if issues arise in which the involvement of another state’s CI program might be able to assist, the CI Program Manager will be involved in that communication.

Requirements to Track Dependency Related Information are Addressed

Dependency Calendaring and Case Initiation.  The CI Program Manager and Information Specialist continue to work with JOLTSaz staff to ensure that calendaring, case initiation, and all general dependency requirements are addressed in the new system. 
 
Rural and Urban County User Input.  The CI Information Specialist staffs the Dependency Users Group meeting on a quarterly basis.  This meeting involves data system users from each of the county courts and serves as a forum for the discussion and testing of new data tracking applications/processes.
 
JOLTSaz Programmer Position.  The CI Program continues to provide funding for a JOLTSaz programmer who assists in the development and deployment of the new application. During this year, the programmer’s activities included (1) Migrating existing dependency reports, including the statewide data and quality assurance reports, into the new system environment; (2) Assisting with the integration of the dependency case initiation process into the Pima County case management system (AGAVE); (3) Assisting with the final development of JOLTSaz in preparation for the February 2012 rollout; (4) Continued to work with model court committees to monitor changes to business practice and assess potential for impact on JOLTSaz;and (5) Developing protocols for interagency data exchange as part of Phase II and beyond (in analysis phase).

Data Tracking Needs for Volunteers.  The CI Program is working with a vendor to expedite the gathering of requirements for data tracking needs of the statewide CASA and Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) Programs.  Based on the analysis provided by the vendor, the functionality of the system that currently services these two programs will be replaced and enhanced by the new JOLTSaz system.
Technology
Technology: Data Collection
Technology: Case Tracking and Management Systems
Technology: Information Sharing
  

Training Grant

The CI Program focused on the following initiatives with the Training Grant:

Caseflow Management Follow-Up Activities

Regional Follow Up Training.  Following the previous year’s success in rolling out the Knowing Who You Are (KWYA) curriculum, CI contracted with Peter Dahlin and Associates to provide assistance to counties in developing a strategic plan to address the disparate needs of children and families involved in the juvenile dependency process. The contractor worked with teams from seven counties to develop plans supportive of the concerns expressed during county planning sessions.  Those plans were compiled into the final report, Strategic Planning to Serve the Disparate Needs of Children and Families in Arizona.  In addition to individual county efforts, the report is also informing the efforts of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusiveness (CODI). Staffed by the State CASA Program Office, CODI will address as one of its priorities the way that individual CASA volunteers and county programs will respond to the issues of diversity and cultural awareness.

Fostering Readiness and Permanency Project (FRPP).  The CI Program Manager continues to serve on the Core Team for Arizona’s FRPP. The FRPP is one of six programs selected to be a part of the Children’s Bureau’s Permanency Innovations Initiative.

Judges Training

Dependency 101.  Held in May 2011, this annual training is required by judges newly assigned to dependency cases within the last year.  There were 17 judicial who were provided with an overview of the dependency process and in depth information from experts in areas critical to the court process.

Dependency 102.  Held in November 2011, this annual training is designed as a follow up to Dependency 101 as well as a refresher for more experienced dependency judges. The training included sessions on the Child Safety Guide (a copy of which was provided to all participants) and engaging fathers. The training was well received by the 25 judicial participants.

Dependency Track.  Held in June 2011.  This Dependency focused education was made available to judges attending this year’s annual judicial conference in Phoenix. There were from 20 to 30 judicial participants at each of these sessions.

Attorney and GAL Training

Statewide Attorney Standards.  Attorney standards for child representatives were initially adopted as an Administrative Order in 2010 and became court rule upon the signing of Rule Petition 11-0013 in September 2011. The standards require attorneys to attend a six hour introductory training and this has been developed and is being provided by CI.  There were three such trainings held in 2011 (Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson) at which there were 185 participants.

Dependency Attorney Training.  CI has coordinated several training events in 2011 to benefit legal counsel for parents, children and CPS. While the CI Trainer worked with the Presiding Juvenile Judge for each County to ensure that topics of local interest / need were addressed, all trainings continued to cover basic elements (e.g. an overview of the dependency process, updates on statutes and case law, responsibilities of the various types of counsel). When considering the standard Dependency Attorney Training offered by CI as well as the new Introduction to Child Representation, CI provided trainings for more than 300 participants from Apache, Coconino, La Paz, Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, and Yuma Counties.

Collaboration with the ASU College of Law and the State Bar of Arizona.  The CEO of the State Bar of Arizona was part of the committee that developed the standards for child representatives and the CI Trainer continues to provide information to the State Bar regarding ongoing CI training opportunities. CI continues to work on various efforts with representatives from ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law and, in particular, the Diane Halle Center for Family Justice (CFJ). CI partnered with the CFJ to deliver a day-long symposium on the intersection between domestic violence and the juvenile court (Connecting the Dots).

Court Teams for Infants and Toddlers

The CI Program continues to work with Prevent Child Abuse (PCA) Arizona to provide ongoing Community Development and Training (CDT).  The most recent progress reporting indicates significant activity across the sites currently involved in the CDT. 
Training and Education
Training and Education: Judicial Training
Training and Education: Attorney/GAL Programs
Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training




Arkansas


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Arkansas

Dependency-Neglect Attorneys Ad Litem

In Arkansas, all children that become a part of the dependency-neglect court system are assigned an attorney ad litem (AAL) to represent their best interests.  Each AALs must participate in 10 hours of training specific to the dependency-neglect system.  During 2010, 34 attorneys participated in the training and became qualified to serve as AALs.  The AAL Program has achieved the following:

  • The AAL Program has 33 full-time employees and 37 part-time contractors who provide representation to all children in dependency-neglect cases.  The AAL program has a high rate of retention.  As of October 20011, 25 of the attorneys have more than three years with the program.
  • From October 2010 to September 2011, AALs provided representation to 9,289 children in 5.337 dependency-neglect cases.
  • The CIP assists in sponsoring two conferences each year, the AAL Fall Conference and the Children in the Court Conference.  ALLs who are full time employees are required to attend both conferences.  The training is free for attorneys who are employed by or contracted with the program.
  • The ALL Program evaluation component now includes data analysis, file review, court observation, interviews, and stakeholder surveys.  In February 2011 a Youth Engagement Specialist Team was developed to assist in this process.  The initial goal of putting the team together was to add the youth perspective to the evaluation process.  All AAL employees will receive this performance evaluation next year.
  • During the 2011 legislative session, the state funded a FT Program/D-Net Manager for D-N Representation Division.  The Program/D-Net manager has worked closely with CIP in the development and implementation of the D-Net data exchange system; including the transferring of data from an antiquated ACCESS data base to the new D-Net system and ensuring accurate reporting that is critical to our court performance measures.  The program Manger has worked closely with DCFS on data match.
  • The AAL Policy Manual and Standards of Practice for AALs was updated and made available to AALs.  A new performance evaluation and contract compliance protocol was implemented in 2011.

Legal Representation of Parties
Legal Representation of Parties: Appointing and Regulating Attorneys
Technology:  Information Sharing
Technology:  Data Collection
Training and Education:  Attorney/GAL programs

CASA Program

The Arkansas CIP provided grants, guidance, and technical assistance to 25 local CASA programs that served 3,443 children with 1,307 volunteers.  In addition to numerous training activities, other initiatives of the CASA Program in 2011 included the following:

  • Facilitated local program grants review for National CASA Association with Pulaski County CASA and CASA of the 20th Judicial District.
  • Updated the organizational strategic plan to reflect Arkansas State CASA Association’s commitment to improving outcomes for foster children by providing resources, consultative services and technical assistance for local programs.
  • Provided non-profit management guidebooks and publications for all local programs.
  • Purchased NCASAA awareness campaign banners for each local CASA program.

Legal Representation of Parties
Legal Representation of Parties: CASA Programs
Training and Education:  Training materials and benchbooks

Parents’ Counsel

Attorneys who represent parents in child welfare cases through contracts with Arkansas are required to undergo 10 hours of training specific to the dependency neglect system.  The CIP sponsors the training, which is offered through the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).  Parent counsel activities during 2011 included the following:
 
• The Parent Counsel Program contracted with 60 attorneys to represent parents in dependency-neglect cases.  Parent counsel represented an average of 2,664 parents per month across the state, with each contractor representing an average of 44 parents per month.
 
• The juvenile judges sponsored a Bill to refine the Right to Counsel Statute.  The Bill was passed and in short, parents and custodians have a right to court-appointed counsel in all D-N proceedings if they had legal custody at the time the child was removed and they request counsel and are indigent.  Punitive parents have a right to counsel under certain circumstances.
 
• The monthly reporting form was further revised to reflect more detailed information regarding case progress.
 
• A Conflict Attorney portion of the Parent Counsel Program was revised by contracting with three conflict attorneys across the state to represent an average of 10 cases per month for a flat fee plus expenses.

• The Parent Counsel Program Director has established an Advisory Committee, which is considering a Policies and Procedures Manual and reviewing state parent counsel standards in comparison to the national and other state standards.
Legal Representation of Parties
Legal Representation of Parties: Appointing and Regulating Attorneys

Dependency-Neglect Mediation Program

As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, the CIP and the Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas developed a statewide dependency-neglect mediation program that began in January 2004.  The Director of Clinical Programs at the Bowen School of Law oversees this program, which provides law students with practical experience in dependency-neglect mediation to help children achieve permanency and safety in a timely and effective manner.
 
The CIP gave the mediation program $60,000 to pay for administrative expenses and all mediations ordered by courts across the state as well as additional training for the courts and agency as deemed appropriate.  This program is being expanded to include Transitional Youth Plans to engage youth in the development of their transitional plans pursuant to Act 391 of 2009 and in the development of a “Cold Case” Program.
Alternative Dispute Resolution

Achieving Permanency

The time from termination of parental rights and adoption has been as issue in the state of Arkansas for some time.  CIP staff participate on committees with the department with the focus of moving more children to adoption.  CIP, through a contractor, using the AFCARS data, has been compiling data and providing judges with data specific to permanency and other outcomes twice yearly.  This has caused some judges to begin asking questions about the data that relates to their judicial district.  CIP encourages judges to take this data to their court improvement teams and have discussion about why the data looks the way that it does.  Areas that are highlighted in these reports are:  The percentage of children reaching permanency during the 6 month reporting period; Percentage of children who left court care and went to relative care; Percentage of children who did not reach permanency before case closure; Percentage of children that had two or more placement moves; Percentage of children who were in foster care for the previous 12 month; and, the percentage of children that had been in foster care at any point. 

This data has been used to assist judicial court teams to develop strategic plans for improving overall practice in the courtroom. CIP continues to provide best practice tip cards to all parties.  CIP is also encouraging the use of technology in the courtroom as a way of achieving permanency quicker.  Through the data sharing and collection program that CIP is funding, D-Net, judges and others in the court room are reminded of the status of the case with flags that indicate when certain time lines are nearing.
Hearing Quality and Depth
Hearing Quality and Depth:  Guidelines, manuals and benchbooks
Timeliness of Decisions:  Data management and technology
Community Collaboration

Data Collection and Analysis Grant

The CIP Data Collection and Analysis Grant is being used for the following activities:

  • Data Exchange Project.  As reported in the Court Improvement Progress Report 2009, the Court Improvement Project Systems Analyst (CIPTA) is overseeing implementation of D-Net, the statewide web-based data management system.  D-Net went live in October 2010 and is successfully integrated with the larger court automation system. Current accomplishments and activities are:
    • A total of 50 attorneys ad litem, who serve 55 of the 75 counties in Arkansas, use D-Net to capture information about their cases. 
    • Fields in D-Net are available to capture all of the permanency outcome measure suggested in “Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases” published by the U.S. Department of Justice.
    • A Memorandum of Understanding between the AOC, DCFS, and OCC has been renewed for the next two years.
    • A contract is in place to provide external programming assistance for the data exchange.
    • A case initiation process involving data transfer from the SACWIS system and establishing the case in D-Net has been created and tested.
    • Development is complete and testing is ongoing for the database link portion of the data exchange between the court data system and SACWIS.  The data exchange is expected to go live in January 2012.
    • Development is ongoing for the web service portion of the data exchange between the court data system and SACWIS.  The web service portion is expected to go live in the spring of 2012.
    • The AOC has implemented Active Directory to verify users of D-Net.  All users of D-Net are being integrated into the Active Directory system.
  • Court Technology.  The CIP will continue to offer technology grants to courts using technology to schedule time specific hearings and produce court orders during the hearing.  The grants are used to purchase computers, printers, and scanners to be used in the courtroom.  This equipment will be helpful to courts to take advantage of D-Net’s benefits.

Technology
Technology: Data Collection
Technology: Information Sharing
Technology: Internet Development
Technology: Equipment

Training Initiatives

Arkansas used its Training Grant for the following initiatives:

  • Children in the Courts.  In May 2011, the AOC, Arkansas CIP, and Arkansas CASA hosted the annual Children in the Courts Conference. This multidisciplinary conference was attended by approximately 400 participants.  The CIP offered scholarships for agency attorneys, caseworkers, and foster parents who might not otherwise have an opportunity to attend the conference.  The first day of the three-day conference was an intensive legal track for attorneys and judges.  There were 27 different topics for attendees to choose from, encompassing such areas as Evidence in Dependency and Neglect Cases, Social Media and the Courts, Special Education Law, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Ethics, Juvenile Sex Offenders and Contempt in FINS Cases. 
  • CASA Conference.  The AOC decided to return to a two separate conference format.  This allowed the conference committee to focus on sessions benefiting CASA staff, advocates and board members in their work in the non-profit arena.  The conference offered sessions in one of four different tracks:  CASA staff, CASA board, CASA advocates and general sessions for all attendees.  These two conferences were attended by approximately 380 attendees.
  • Annual Judicial Conference.  The CIP Training Grant helped finance the fall 2011 Annual Judicial Conference. The CIP was able to bring in speakers on various topics that were of important to judges.
  • Training for Dependency Neglect Attorneys
    • Annual ALL Conference.  The training grant helped to provide a fall mini conference for attorney ad litem’s.  This is the fourth time that ad litem’s were brought together as a group.  The conferences have focused on best practice in working with children involved in the dependency neglect system as well as best practice in the courtroom.
    • Annual Parent Counsel Conference.  CIP assisted with the mini fall conference for counsel for indigent parents.  This group has continued to indicate a need to convene as a group of attorneys that practice in the same arena.  They use this mini conference as way to build a network of colleagues who can share experiences and trouble shoot problems that arise in the field.
    • Qualification Training for Dependency Neglect Attorneys.  Attorneys that represent children and their parents in dependency neglect proceedings are required to Arkansas statute to complete the minimum of 10 hours of specialized training in order to be considered qualified by the state to do so.  The CIP training grant helped to finance this training and 49 attorneys became qualified to be counsel in dependency neglect proceedings.

Training and Education
Training and Education: Judicial Training
Training and Education: Attorney/GAL Programs
Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training




California


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California

www.courtinfo.ca.gov/programs/cfcc

Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care

As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, the Chief Justice of California convened California’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care (Commission). The commission was charged with providing recommendations to the Judicial Council of California on the ways in which the courts and their partners can improve safety, permanency, well-being, and fairness for children and families in the child welfare system.

During FY 2010- 2011, the commission continued its work on implementation activities. There was significant progress on implementation due to AB 12 and AB 212 (a Judicial Council-sponsored cleanup bill), which provide federally subsidized relative guardianships and extend foster care jurisdiction to age 21 (pending a further appropriation by the Legislature effective January 1, 2014). 

Data and information exchange efforts are also key to implementing the BRC recommendations. In October 2011, the commission cosponsored a foster care symposium focused on data exchange in health, mental health, substance abuse, and education. Leaders and advocates from across California convened in Sacramento to talk about data linkage opportunities and information-sharing challenges for children in foster care. Capitalizing on special facilitation methods used by the Stewards of Change, a nationally recognized group with expertise in interoperability, attendees began the process of developing a vision and road map for strengthening information sharing for children in foster care, not just through technology usage, but also by confronting the often misperceived or feared confidentiality and privacy laws.

The commission has continued its ongoing quarterly distribution of the Foster Care Reform Update: A Briefing for County and Statewide Collaborations, a resource intended as a vehicle for the cross-pollination of information, ideas, and inspiration for local and statewide implementation efforts.

The commission met telephonically in November 2011 to evaluate its progress in implementing the recommendations and to plan its priorities for the coming year. After reviewing the work of the last two and a half years, the commissioners affirmed their commitment to seeing their initial action plan through to its full implementation. They voted to approve new recommendations encouraging the reunification of families, specifically urging incentives for successful family reunification and access to post-permanency services for newly reunified families. Commissioners participated in the Leadership Forum scheduled in conjunction with the annual Beyond the Bench conference on December 2011.

 Community Collaboration

Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders

Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders: State Legislation

Training and Education

Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training

Technology

Technology: Internet Development

 

Child Welfare Council

In 2007, the Child Welfare Leadership and Performance Accountability Act of 2006 (AB 2216) created, under the California Health and Human Service Agency, the California Child Welfare Council.  The Child Welfare Council is an advisory body responsible for improving the collaboration and processes of the multiple agencies and courts that serve children and youth in the child welfare and foster care systems.  The Council’s goals are to (1) improve how agencies that help children work together; (2) improve programs that serve children and their families; (3) create and support policies and laws that affect children in foster care; and (4) make sure there are enough resources to support the work of programs that help children. 

The Council consists of Commission representatives, AOC representatives, and judges, and is staffed by several AOC staff members responsible for the CIP Basic Grant.  In 2010 – 2011, CIP staff to the Council staffed four full Council meetings and numerous advisory committee meetings. CIP staff to the Data Linkage and Information Sharing Committee completed the new Judicial Council forms to ease information sharing and had the form approved by the Judicial Council through the RUPRO process. Staff also worked with partners in the Stuart Foundation and contracted to the Stewards of Change to provide, on behalf of the Child Welfare Council and the Blue Ribbon Commission, site visits and planning for a symposium on information sharing.  CIP staff continued to maintain, for the Council, a web site which allows counties to share memoranda of understanding and other tools to implement data sharing.  CIP staff to the Permanency Committee worked with partners in Annie E. Casey family programs to fund a family finding and engagement pilot in Sacramento county, to test the Committee’s assumptions on the efficacy of the program model.  Committee reports with recommendations can be found at, www.chhs.ca.gov/initiatives/CAChildWelfareCouncil/Pages/CWCDraftRecommendations.aspx.

Community Collaboration

Technology

Technology: Internet Development

Technology: Information Sharing

Tribal Court/State Court Forum

On May 20, 2010, Chief Justice Ronald M. George announced the appointment of the California Tribal Court/State Court Forum, the first coalition of its kind in the state.  The Coalition members include Tribal and state court judges, the Director of the California Attorney General’s Office of Native American Affairs, and Chairs of Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee, Access and Fairness Advisory Committee, Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee, Criminal Law Advisory Committee, and Traffic Advisory Committee.  To date, the forum has looked at issues such as the enforcement and recognition of protective and other kinds of orders and judgments, jurisdictional issues, and how to ensure access to justice in the areas of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and teen-dating violence.  The forum has met four times in person and regularly by conference call.  The Forum’s roster, charge and scope of work, values and principles, communications plan, and meeting notes can be found at:  http://www.courts.ca.gov/3065.htm.  The AOC has assisted with several projected related to recommended revisions to rules, forms and recommended legislative proposals:

  • Tribal Customary Adoption.  Amendments were approved to the Judicial Council rules and forms to implement the provisions of AB 1325.
  • California Fostering Connections to Success Act. AB 2418 implementation coordination with AB 12 implementation. This proposal would allows for Indian children to remain dependents of the courts up to age 21
  • Juvenile Appellate Record. This proposal revises the rule governing sending the record in juvenile appeals to clarify that if an Indian tribe has intervened in a case, a copy of the record of that case must be sent to that tribe.
  • Tribal Access to Juvenile Court Records. This proposal amends Welfare and Institutions Code 827 to give tribal court judges and court personnel access (inspect and copy) juvenile court records.
  • Full Faith and Credit for Tribal Civil Judgments. This proposal clarifies and simplifies the process by which tribal civil judgments will be recognized by the state courts and enforced just as any state civil judgment would be.
  • Enforcement of Tribal Protective Orders. Draft rule and form proposal to establish an efficient and consistent statewide procedure for California state courts to register protective orders issued by tribal courts in California.

Community Collaboration

Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders

Legislation, Court Rules, Forms and Orders:  Forms and Orders

Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders:  State legislation

Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders:  Court Rules

 

CASA Projects

As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, the AOC provides funding to all CASA programs serving the superior courts of California.  CASA programs also receive funding from a variety of other sources. There are 40 local CASA programs providing services in 43 of California's 58 counties, as well as one Tribal CASA program. Two programs in two additional counties are in development. The CASA grants program works in close collaboration with the California CASA, the statewide training and technical assistance provider to CASA programs.

In 2011 the CIP Basic grant funded administration and oversight allowing the CASA grants program to monitor CASAs through a system of data collection, site visits, and review of training, recruitment, and financial documents.

Legal Representation of Parties

Legal Representation of Parties: CASA Programs

 

Other Collaboratives

  • State Interagency Team.  The State Interagency Team (SIT) was formed by CDSS to continue the program improvement work begun in the Child Welfare Redesign, and consists of representatives from CDSS, Department of Health Services, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Department of Mental Health, Department of Justice, and other state agencies.  In addition, CIP Basic funds staff travel and some staff time to serve as representatives to the SIT Workgroup to Eliminate Disparities, the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Workgroup, the Foster Youth Reentry Task Force, and the CA Leadership Group on Domestic Violence and Child Well-Being.  The planning meeting for 2012 will take place in late January. In 2011, the SIT monitored and coordinated activities toward shared goals that included: (1) Decrease racial disproportionality and disparities in services and outcomes; (2) Strengthen Programs and Services to Address Domestic Violence; (3) Support successful transitions to adulthood for foster youth exiting the juvenile justice system; and,  (4) Share client specific information to improve services.
  •  California Leadership Group on Domestic Violence and Child Well-Being.  The California Statewide Leadership Group on Domestic Violence and Child Well-being is a voluntary affiliation of governmental and nonprofit organizations that offer a broad spectrum of services and supports for families with the co-occurring challenges of domestic violence and child maltreatment. Membership includes leaders from juvenile and family courts; law enforcement agencies; and agencies that address child welfare, domestic violence, public health, emergency services, alcohol and drug abuse, and mental health at the state and local levels.
  •  Co-Investment Partnership.   The California Child Welfare Co-Investment Partnership is a collaborative group of state agencies, foundations and other nonprofit organizations whose purpose is improving the lives of children and families who are in or are at risk of entering the state’s child welfare system.  The public-private partnership includes eight partners (including CDSS, AOC CIP, the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA), and several foundations) that collectively invest more than $2 billion in the state’s child welfare system.  The partnership has been instrumental in disseminating information on the Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations and the Beyond the Bench conference. Further information about the Partnership can be found on its web site at www.co-invest.org.

 

Legislation, Court Rules, and Forms

The following rules/forms were adopted in 2011:

  • Juvenile Law: Juvenile Delinquency Forms Proposed Revisions and New Forms (amend California Rules of Court, rule 5.504; approve Judicial Council forms JV-618, JV-667, JV-672, JV-674, JV-678, JV-682, JV-690, and JV-692; revise forms JV-600, JV-615, JV-624, JV-625, JV-640, JV-642, JV-644, JV-665, JV-710, JV-732, JV-735, JV-740, JV-755, JV-760, and JV-794.)  The Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee amended rule 5.504 of the California Rules of Court be to grant courts an extra five years to produce modified versions of mandatory juvenile court order forms. The committee also created 8 new Judicial Council forms and revised 15 other forms for juvenile delinquency proceedings.
  •  Juvenile Law: Qualifications for Experts Evaluating Child’s Competency to Participate in Juvenile Proceedings (amend Cal. Rules of Court, rule 5.645(d)).     The Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee recommended amending rule 5.645(d) of the California Rules of Court to meet the requirement in Welfare and Institutions Code section 709 that the Judicial Council develop and adopt rules regarding the qualifications of experts who evaluate children when the court or child’s counsel raises the issue of the child’s competency in any juvenile delinquency proceeding.
  •  Juvenile Law: Appearance by Incarcerated Parents and Other Parties in Juvenile Court Proceedings (amend Cal. Rules of Court, rule 5.530; adopt rule 5.531; revise Judicial Council form JV-450; adopt form JV-451).    The Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee recommended that the Judicial Council amend rule 5.530, adopt rule 5.531, revise form JV-450, and adopt form JV-451 to facilitate the appearance of incarcerated parents in juvenile court proceedings as authorized by law and to guide courts in establishing local procedures to govern any authorized appearance by telephone in a juvenile court proceeding.
  •  Juvenile Law: Restraining Orders (amend Cal. Rules of Court, rules 5.630; revise Judicial Council forms JV-205, JV-245, JV-250, and JV-510; revise and renumber form DV-810; adopt forms JV-247 and JV-255; and revoke form JV-248).   The Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee recommended amending rule 5.360 of the California Rules of Court and amending and adopting forms used to obtain and issue restraining orders in juvenile court cases.

 Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders

Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders: Court Rules

Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders: Forms and Orders

 

CIP Data Collection and Analysis Grant

California is using the CIP Data Collection and Analysis Grant for the following projects:

  • Court Case Manager Evaluation.  As part of the Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations, a case manager position, modeled after dependency drug court case management, continues to provide educational services to the court, social services and foster youth in San Joaquin County. The project continues to thrive and is currently still being evaluated. Some of the milestones and contributions that this project has made this past year include: (1) The court issued a standing order to allow research staff access to juvenile records; (2) A short-term attainment of four temporary law interns to help with the project monitoring and records review; (3) Program brochure for parents, attorneys and social workers, (4) A county-wide information sharing guide which details which information can and cannot be shared by each stakeholder, parent or educational rights holder; and (5) The case manager discovered an opportunity to collaborate with Humphrey’s College (a local county college) to offer foster youth free college courses while students are still working to complete their high school degree.
  •  Child Welfare Performance Measures Project.  CFCC has worked with CDSS and the Center for Social Services Research (CSSR) to produce statistical tables for local courts. These tables use child welfare data collected through the CWS/CMS but analyzed to be relevant to the courts. These tables have been widely disseminated to local teams through the Summit and the visits of the JCAT liaisons, and are available on the internet to all judges and court stakeholders. In 2011, CIP conducted extensive public education to promote understanding and use of the reports by the courts and local commission
  •  Data Warehouse Pilot Project - Grants to local courts and dissemination of court-based outcome measures.  The Judicial Council adopted California rule of court 5.505 at its October 2008 meeting and contains an implementation plan and Implementation Guide, directing the AOC to provide assistance to the courts in creating statistical reports based on the performance measures. Based on the work of the Blue Ribbon Commission and national associations, this rule codifies performance measures for juvenile dependency courts. The key measures related to safety and permanency are now available to all courts.  he measures related to timeliness of hearings and due process are available only through local court case management systems. CIP is pursuing two strategies to make these measures available to the courts through statistical reports.
  • The CIP team working on the California Court Case Management System (CCMS) has incorporated the data necessary to produce the measures into the CCMS core system, and the data warehouse statistical reports will create all the performance measures for each court. This system should begin coming on-line for the courts within the next two years.
  • CIP is working with local courts to produce outcome measures from current case management systems. This will allow the team to pilot the measures, test their usefulness to the courts and also test their power to predict court performance. CIP Data has funded three pilot courts, Orange, Santa Clara, and Inyo, received CIP Data grants to examine their existing data and estimate the feasibility of producing statistical reports on the performance measures.  Courts participating in the pilot project have given CIP feedback on what was useful about the project and the ability to review their measures on timeliness and due process: the ability to examine variance in coding among clerks and other court staff; the ability to identify hearings that are frequently delayed and analyze the reasons for delay; and the ability to look at case flow and timeliness by the type of case plan.  Pilot courts have also been given the information necessary to adjust their data coding so that CIP can continue providing them with performance measures. The long term goal is to provide the statistical reports for as many counties as possible before the implementation of CCMS. CIP is also exploring linking the court case data to child welfare data.
  • Confidentiality Project / Strategic Planning for Statewide Data Exchange Symposium.  The Data Linkage Committee of the Child Welfare Council asked CIP and the AOC to take the lead on identifying and recommending improvements in the current patchwork of laws, customs and regulations governing information exchange on foster children.  In 2011 the CIP team undertook a program of public education on the policy issues, and work with the Data Committee to identify and implement recommendations including changes in law and policy.
  •  Judicial Officer and Court Staff Workload Study.  The Blue Ribbon Commission identified excessive workload among judicial officers, attorneys, social workers and court staff as a problem in the dependency system, and recommended (2A) that “The Judicial Council undertake a new judicial caseload study focused specifically on juvenile dependency courts. The study should take into account the court’s unique oversight and case management responsibilities and address the use of case managers to support judges in meeting their workloads.”  The activities undertaken from October 2010 – September 2011 included:  (1) Completion of judicial officer/staff study data collection; (2) Judicial officer/staff focus groups to review and adjust case weights; (3) Site visits/focus groups in the study courts to contextualize data and adjust case weights; (4) Completion of analysis and development of preliminary case weights; (5) Presentation of preliminary results to Judicial Council, including a supplemental assessment of Judgeships needed in Family/Juvenile court; and (6) Preliminary/draft reports of judicial officer and court staff case weights.
  •  California Case Management System (CCMS).  The principal activity funded by the CIP Data grant has been the development of the juvenile dependency functions of the California Case Management System (CCMS). The core team consists of a supervising research analyst and senior business systems analyst. The CIP manager works closely with this team. During FY 2010-11, several phases of testing were completed with the addition of temporary and contract testers.
  • CCMS acceptance testing
  • CCMS Core Product Integration Testing
  • Core Product Acceptance Testing
  • External Component Integration and PAT and Statewide Data Warehouse Integration Testing
  • Statewide Data Warehouse PAT Testing

Technology:  Data collection
Technology:  Information sharing
Community Collaboration
Training:  Other Training

CIP Training Grant

California is using the CIP Training Grant for the following projects:

Staffing.  Staff supported by CIP Training include 5 different positions.  The three attorneys work as DRAFT trainers and local Blue Ribbon Commission liaisons. The analyst manages the CIP grant, and the administrative coordinator is responsible for updating the California Dependency Online Guide and the Dependency Quick Guide (Dogbook).

JCAT Attorney Liaison.  Liaisons assist each court in assessing its local needs and coordinating available training and other resources for the court.  Liaisons coordinated the following activates for all counties:
• Implementation of AB 12/212 (California’s Fostering Connections to Success Act)
• Judicial Review and Technical Assistance (JRTA) project conducted site visits to 28 courts in 27 counties and provided multi-disciplinary technical assistance and training as needed.
• JCAT liaisons planned the 21st Beyond the Bench Conference for December 2011. Special offerings included judicial training and a pre-conference all day training related to California’s Fostering Connections to Success Act (AB12/AB212).
• The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) initiative provided regional training in Northern and Southern California; conducted facilitations; developed, disseminated, and conducted ICWA self-assessments; conducted county-specific file reviews; maintained a clearinghouse list of resources; and maintained a qualified expert witness list that can be utilized for ICWA cases statewide.
• A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) directors’ training was held over a two day period, with over 50 attendees representing 40 local county programs. The AOC CASA grants program provided support for statewide data collection work for 41 programs and conducted 8 site visits.

Publications and Curriculum Development.  Publications that were issued this year include the updated Dependency Quick Guide: A Deskbook for Attorneys, Foster Care Reform Update Newsletter, AOC Briefing: Screening and Assessments Used in the Juvenile Justice System – Evaluating Risks and Needs of Youth, and AOC Briefing: Screening and Assessments Used in the Juvenile Justice System – Juvenile Mental Health Screenings and Assessments. In process are an updated activity book, a book for children reunifying with their parents, and a dependency court orientation video.

California Dependency Online Guide Website.  The California Dependency Online Guide (CalDOG) is a resource and technical assistance website developed and operated by JCAT staff. It is offered free of charge to juvenile dependency judicial officers, attorneys, social workers, and other professionals working in child welfare or related fields in California.  This year, the local Blue Ribbon commissions in a number of counties continued to use this site, to share information among their members and to learn about approaches that other local teams were using for child welfare reform and solving systemic problems.  In the fall of 2011, CalDOG staff conducted a user survey, to learn more about how our subscribers use the site, and where they would like to see changes. Over 300 people responded to the online survey. From the survey responses, CalDOG staff learned a great deal about which aspects of the site are most and least helpful to our users, and where changes or upgrades are needed. This information will be used to prioritize our work in the coming fiscal year, focusing limited staff resources on updating the parts of the site (such as the case law database) that are most relied upon by our users.

Beyond the Bench.  Historically, Beyond the Bench has been an annual, multidisciplinary conference that brings together juvenile dependency and delinquency professionals, including judicial officers, court administrators, child welfare professionals, public defenders, district attorneys, chief probation officers and probation officers, educators, mental health professionals, Court Appointed Special Advocates, domestic violence advocates and other service providers from many of California's 58 counties to learn about the latest research and best practices with regard to improving juvenile justice and child abuse and neglect proceedings.  During the 2011 fiscal year, the AOC has planned the 21st annual Beyond the Bench conference scheduled in December 2011. The conference theme is Coming of Age in Tough Times: Building Our Strength Together. The conference will bring together juvenile dependency and delinquency professionals to plan collaborations and responses to the increasing strains on this state’s children and families, while including speakers and workshops for a wider range of court and partner professionals engaged in family law, domestic violence, collaborative justice, probate, and mental health proceedings, and self-help efforts.

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) project.  There were 18 various trainings/workshops offered between Noverber 2010 and October 2011.  Each training/workshop focused on different issues ranging from tribal customary adoptions, needed and available services, self-represented litigants, active versus reasonable efforts and ICWA law.  During the reporting period, the AOC continues to maintain and update its website of comprehensive ICWA resources.  During the reporting period, the AOC continues to collaborate with a number of groups to develop ICWA resources.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Grants Program.  In FY 10-11, the CASA Grants Program conducted a statewide CASA director’s training attended by over 50 attendees from 40 local county programs and two development programs. The two-day educational program offered 21CASA directors the opportunity to learn about serving LGBTQ foster youth, improving male and Latino volunteer recruitment, family finding and engagement, maintaining an effective board, and legislative changes to extend foster care beyond a youth’s 18th birthday.

Dependency Mediation.  In March of 2011, staff conducted a survey of dependency mediation in California. The purpose of the survey was to gather updated information about the programs in California and to also compare findings from a previous survey conducted in 2002.  In April of 2011, AOC staff conducted a statewide juvenile dependency mediation meeting held in conjunction with the Family Dispute Resolution Statewide Educational Institute in Los Angeles. The initial results from the survey were shared with dependency mediators at this meeting.  In August of 2011, AOC staff began to plan for training for dependency mediators to be held at the Beyond the Bench conference in December, 2011. Additionally, AOC staff initiated a project to draft AOC briefings on dependency mediation.

Judge in Residence.  Retired presiding juvenile court judge Hon. Leonard Edwards, Superior Court of Santa Clara County, continued in his role as the AOC’s first Judge-in-Residence. The vision of this program is to improve court operations relating to families and children in the child welfare and family systems throughout the state of California.  Judge Edwards He served as faculty to a number of JCAT training programs throughout 2011. He also planned training for the upcoming Beyond the Bench Conference.  Judge Edwards contributes a Juvenile Judge’s Corner Article in CJA’s quarterly publication: The Bench. He is a regular contributor to the Judge Page, a web-based publication on juvenile court issues published by National Court Appoint Special Advocates (CASA).

Tribal Courts Training and Technical Assistance.  The Tribal Projects’ activities include: (1) Maintaining a Clearinghouse of Resources; (2) Staffing the Tribal Court / State Court Forum; (3) Providing Indian Child Welfare Act Services; (4) Curriculum development; and (5) New Initiatives.

Family Finding and Engagement. Local Family Finding and Engagement pilots and evaluations.  CIP Training, in conjunction with the Annie E. Casey foundation, is funding a pilot program for Family Finding and Engagement (FFE) in Sacramento County. The project is planned through the county’s local Blue Ribbon Commission.  An extensive evaluation of the project was designed by Child Trends, a research firm that has evaluated most of the major FFE projects in the country. Both the project and the evaluation are currently moving from start-up into full operations. The evaluation results will be used by CIP to identify the most promising models for future FFE programs.
Training and Education
Training and Education:  Judicial Training
Training and Education:  Multidisciplinary Training
Training and Education:  Attorney/GAL programs
Training and Education:  Training Materials and Benchbooks
Training and Education:  CASA/Social Worker Training
Training and Education:  Other Training
Evaluations:  General
Evaluations:  Pilot Projects
Court Staffing:  Case Managers, Coordinators, Mediators, and Other Court Staff




Colorado


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Colorado

Model Courts


Colorado’s seeks to improve the safety, permanency, and well-being of children in foster care through the following major initiatives:

Support to Best Practice Court Teams

Approximately five years ago the Colorado CIP embarked on a journey to expand and enhance its effectiveness as a statewide program by developing an infrastructure for the delivery of training and technical assistance to all child welfare stakeholders: the Best Practice Court Program (“BPC”). Similar to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Courts Judges’ Model Court Program, Best Practice Courts are designed to identify key stakeholders; include them in the strategic planning processes; begin assessing systems’ functioning; target specific, attainable goals; provide the information, materials, faculty, and mentors necessary to reach these goals; and, support ongoing efforts to effect substantive, sustainable change.

In 2012, members of the statewide CIP will begin to visit local jurisdictions and it is anticipated that these CIP visits will lead to an increase in the sharing of best practices across jurisdictions. The visits to local jurisdictions will change the function of the CIP from that of a deliberative committee that provides advice, to that of learning and teaching organization, modeling communication and leading systems change.

The Colorado BPC Teams’ website is a virtual meeting place for all of Colorado’s dependency court BPC Teams to communicate directly with one another and to share best practices information by viewing and posting meetings, holding forum discussions, and posting documents and links in the virtual library. Members can also view all team goals and profiles.

In 2011, the Colorado CIP offered flexible funding grants to each of Colorado’s twenty-two Judicial Districts. Twenty districts applied for a total of twenty-two grant requests; in districts where more than one Best Practice Court Team existed, each team was eligible for a grant. Of the twenty-two grant awards, eleven were to support local, multi-disciplinary training. All of the trainings were based on training needs determined at the district level, were organized by, and were implemented by local Best Practice Court Teams.

Collaboration
Training and Education

Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training


Child Welfare Training Program

The Training Program is designed to deliver multi-disciplinary training curricula to Best Practice Court teams and other child welfare stakeholders and to provide in depth, in residence dependency and neglect training for judicial officers. The multi-disciplinary trainings consist of (1) The Training Wheel curricula; (2) a statewide multi-disciplinary collaborative conference, The Summit on Children, Youth and Families; and (3) CIP sponsored local training initiated by judicial districts. The multi-disciplinary training curricula, the Training Wheel, consists of nine individual one day training modules for subject matter categories that address the core knowledge base for those practicing in the child welfare system. The individual training modules are: Roles and Responsibilities; Procedure and Practice; Information; Child Development; Collaborative Process; Community and Culture; Law; Education; and Services. In 2010, the curricula for five training modules were completed and one module, Roles and Responsibilities, was delivered seven times regionally to a total 350 regional child welfare stakeholders. A retired Colorado District Court Judge served as “Judge in Residence” for the CIP in 2011, delivering regional multi-disciplinary training from the Training Wheel Curricula, conducted site visits, and acted as a liaison between the CIP and lead dependency judges in local jurisdictions.

Training and Education
Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training

Respondent Parents’ Counsel Task Force

As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, the Respondent Parents’ Counsel (RPC) Program is designed to improve the representation of parents by court-appointed attorneys and the information provided by court-appointed attorneys to the court through the implementation of recommendations made by the RPC Task Force Needs Assessment (finalized in April 2007) and the Recommendations made by the RPC Task Force Final Report to the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court (finalized in September 2007). A Court Auxiliary Services Coordinator was hired in 2010 to address issues related to respondent parents’ counsel and other court-appointed professionals. Steps have been taken in the following areas: provision of accessible and relevant training to RPC; promulgation of practice guidelines in a Chief Justice Directive; exploration of models of compensation alternative to the widely-used flat fee payment model; provision of technical support and assistance through the creation of a quarterly newsletter, outreach and communication to attorneys serving as RPC and maintenance of the RPC listserv; and, improvements in oversight through communication with districts, revision to contracts and efforts to identify and contract with all attorneys providing state-paid RPC services.

Building a Defense and Helping Families in the Child Welfare System is a respondent parents’ counsel training curricula. The goal of this two day training is to promote and protect the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families in the child welfare system by ensuring a sufficient level of competency and expertise among all counsel representing parents. The training was offered on June 9-10, August 4-5, and November 3-4 of 2011 and 104 respondent parents’ counsel attended the training. (6) Attended National Parents’ Attorney Conference: The CIP sponsored a team consisting of judicial officers, CIP staff, State Court Administrator Office staff, and child welfare attorneys to attend the Second National Parents’ Attorneys Conference from July 13 to July14, 2011. The purpose of sending a team to conference was to continue efforts to improve parents’ representation and to implement the recommendations of the 2007 RPC Task Force.

Legal Representation of Parties
Legal Representation of Parties: Appointing and Regulating Attorneys

CIP also engaged in the following activities over the last year:

International Site Visit

In August 2011, a CIP Committee Site Visit visited the Ute and Dine Nations in southwestern Colorado and northern New Mexico. Participants in the International Site Visit included twenty-eight members of the Colorado CIP, representatives from the Children’s Bureau, the Tribal Issues Liaison from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and two members of the Denver Indian Family Resource Center.

Collaboration
Collaboration: Partnership with Tribes

Cross Over Youth Practice Model

The CIP partnered with Denver Juvenile Court, The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at the Georgetown University to spread a cross over youth practice model that describes the specific practices that need to be in place within a jurisdiction in order to reduce the number of youth who crossover between child welfare and juvenile justice systems. In addition to Denver Juvenile Court the practice model was spread to Broomfield, Douglas, Morgan, and Larimer counties for implementation.

Family Justice Information (FAMJIS) Program and CIP Data Collection and Analysis Grant

The FAMJIS Program is an information management system that allows for the real time exchange of child welfare data between the Colorado Judicial Department and Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS). The FAMJIS Program allows for the sharing of information related to safety, permanency, well-being, and timeliness in child welfare cases. As a result of the FAMJIS Program, outcome-based management reports and case management tools have been designed to improve the handling of child welfare cases. The focus of the program activities is two-fold: 1) assess judicial and stakeholder training needs and 2) deliver statewide technical assistance designed to ensure utilization and enhance the capabilities of case management tools and reports related to safety, permanency, timeliness, and due process.

Details of specific projects include the following:

Continued FAMJIS Training Efforts: The CIP continues to provide statewide quarterly dependency and neglect coding training, statewide quarterly dependency and neglect management report training, and joint agency training with the Colorado Department of Human Services. Training was delivered in a number of judicial districts in 2011.

Conducted Dependency and Neglect Case Management Team Meetings: A statewide case management team consisting of CIP staff and local court staff meet on a monthly basis to implement the Toolkit for Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases. The case management team considers coding practices, provides training and technical assistance to local courts, develops statewide caseflow management curriculum and develops tools to enhance the processing of dependency and neglect cases (i.e. advisement video).

Developed and Enhanced Case Management Reports: CIP staff worked closely with work units within the State Court Administrator’s Office to develop existing case management reports in COGNOS. COGNOS is business development and performance management software that provides user friendly and understandable reports. The purpose of these reports are to provide local courts data pertaining to the court performance as set forth in the Toolkit for Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases. The enhancements made to the subsequent petition, permanency, timeliness, and placement reports will include charts, graphs, and drill up and drill down capabilities.

Conducted Case Closure Workgroup Meetings: The CIP received technical assistance from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) pertaining to the use of data consistent with the Toolkit for Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases. The report issued by NCSC in February 2011 identified administrative case closure practices as an area of need. A workgroup consisting of judicial officers, family court facilitators, and administrative staff from across the state was charged in June 2011 to evaluate current practice and to make recommendations to the CIP.

Implemented a Statewide Data Blitz: In an effort to increase the utilization of existing case management reports and to ensure the use of data consistent with the Toolkit for Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases the CIP implemented a statewide Data Blitz in August 2011. Every six to eight weeks, information regarding one of the twelve management reports is sent to lead judges, district administrators, clerks of court, and family court facilitators.

Developed and Implemented Colorado Dependency and Neglect Caseflow Management Workshop: The CIP developed an interactive workshop based on the National Curriculum for Caseflow Management in Juvenile Dependency Cases Involving Foster Care. The curricula incorporates Colorado specific data and is tailored to meet the requirments of practice in Colorado. The goal of this interactive workshop is to improve the Best Practice Court Team’s ability to process cases across systems and to shorten the time needed for children to reach a permanent placement. Approximatley eleven judicial districts particpated in the two workshops in 2011. The teams attending consisted of up to eight child welfare professionals that included: lead judges, family court facilitators, court staff, county attorneys, respondent parents counsel, guardians ad litem, CASA’s, family engagement staff, and local department of human services staff. (Appendix O, Colorado Dependency and Neglect Caseflow Management Workshop Agenda)

Developed Distance Learning Curriculum. Distance learning curriculum was developed using Adobe Connect eLearning software for case matching and client index training. The training being developed in Adobe Connect will eliminate the need for staff to travel to training. These two trainings were chosen to be developed in the distance learning environment because they are critical to ensure realtime data exchanges with the Colorado Department of Human Services and are frequently requested.

Developed Dependency and Neglect Advisement Video. The CIP partnered with a professional media company to film and produce an advisement video for use at shelter care hearings statewide. Former respondent parents appear in the video to emphasize the importance of the advisement, to explain the court process in a non-technical manner and to reiterate the importance of active participation in the case. The advisement video was completed in both Spanish and English. In addition to the video advisement, a hearing checklist and bench card was developed to accompany the video and ensure effective implementation. The video will and best practice resources will be implemented statewide in 2012.

Developed Family Drug Court Database: The CIP partnered with other work units within the State Court Administrator’s Office to enhance the Problem Solving Courts Data Drives Dollars (PSC3D) database. This database is used to capture drug court client data at intake and discharge. Changes to the existing PSC3D database were designed to meet the needs of dependency and neglect courts that operate integrated family treatment courts as part of the dependency and neglect court. The database will be rolled out for use statewide in 2012.

Technology
Technology: Data Collection

Technology: Case Tracking and Management Systems


Training

Specific training activities, funded by either the CIP Basic Grant or Training Grant, include the following:

Colorado Dependency and Neglect Judicial Institute (CoDNJI)

The judge specific training, the Colorado Dependency and Neglect Judicial Institute (CoDNJI), is a subject matter specific training for judicial officers. It is a highly interactive in-residence training that follows a dependency case from beginning to end. It affords judicial officers an opportunity to share their bench experiences and practice skills. The Second Annual CoDNJI was delivered July 25-29, 2011, at the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver. The CoDNJI is an in-residence state level training for dependency and neglect judicial officers. The training is interactive, organized from a common dependency and neglect case scenario, and follows the progression of a dependency case that begins with the first contact a judge would have with a case and ends with a termination hearing. Eighteen judicial officers from small, medium, and large judicial districts in Colorado attended.

Leadership Symposium on Colorado’s Children

Following the success of the 2008 and 2009 Summits on Children, Youth, and Families multi-disciplinary training, the CIP Training Coordinator and other CIP judicial personnel were prepared to continue collaboration with the Colorado Division of Child Welfare to host a 2010 Summit, but were prevented from doing so because of budget restrictions in the Department of Human Services. However, a smaller statewide conference, the Leadership Symposium on Colorado’s Children, was held on September 12-15, 2010. The Symposium was collaboratively sponsored by the Colorado Department of Human Services, Division of Child Welfare; the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement; and the Court Improvement Program of the Colorado Judicial Branch. Approximately 400 child welfare stakeholders attended the statewide Leadership Symposium on Colorado’s Children (Appendix B, Evaluation Results from the Regional Team Track Sessions of the 2010 Leadership Symposium for Colorado’s Children).

Drug Court Conference

The CIP collaborated with the Colorado Interagency Task force on Treatment, the Problem Solving Court Advisory Committee, and the Colorado DEC to deliver Best Practices Meet the Community Drug Court Conference on April 27-29, 2010. Approximately 14 dependency and neglect courts that also operated an integrated family treatment docket sent teams to attend the conference.

Fostering Connections to Success Healthcare Summit

The CIP partnered with the University of Colorado, Colorado Department of Human Services and key stakeholders from the medical and child welfare community to deliver the First Annual Fostering Connections to Success Healthcare Summit on October 14, 2011. The Summit was planned with the goal of bringing awareness to the requirements of 2008 Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act as they pertaining to the healthcare needs of child and youth involved in the child welfare system.

Judicial Conference Special Session

The CIP collaborated with the Judicial Education Team at the State Court Administrator’s Office to deliver a special session for juvenile judges at the 2011 Judicial Conference titled, Science and the Child Welfare System: Integrating What We Know With What We Do.

Foster Youth Training

The CIP partnered with the Mile High United Way Bridging the Gap program to support the following training for foster youth: (1) Speakers Bureau: Train youth in strategic sharing so that the youth can serve as panel presenters or co-trainers for child welfare, legal and community professionals; (2) Meeting/Circles of Support Co-Facilitator: Teach youth advanced facilitation skills to play a leadership role within gatherings of youth and community partners; and (3) Youth Self-Evaluation Coaching: Train youth to help guide focus group and “speak up” events on a variety of topics to support youth in transition.

National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) Training

The CIP and Denver Juvenile Court sponsored a three day program focusing on advocacy training for county attorneys, parents’ attorneys and Guardians ad litem who handle dependency and neglect cases in Denver Juvenile Court on December 19 to December 21, 2011. The training programs purpose is to improve the quality of legal representation for children, parents and agencies involved in dependency and neglect case.

Permanency by Design Summit

The CIP partnered with the Colorado Department of Human Services to sponsor the Permanency by Design Summit in conjunction with the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures and Casey Family Programs from September 22 to September 23, 2011. The purpose of the Summit was to improve permanency outcomes for youth in foster care.

Addressed Minority Overrepresentation through Training

The CIP partnered with Colorado Disparities Resource Center to deliver Undoing Racism workshop in September 2011and supported the attendance of judicial officers and child welfare professionals. The purpose of the workshop was to continue to address the over representation of minorities in Colorado’s Child Welfare System (Appendix I, Undoing Racism Training Agenda).

Training and Education

Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training




Delaware


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Delaware

During the grant period, the Family Court of Delaware leveraged the resources from all three CIP grants (basic, data and training) to foster ongoing and meaningful collaboration with partners to support the safety, well-being and permanence of children in foster care. The needs of the Court included:

  • continued support and structure for the CIP program;
  • design and implementation of a Court data collection system; and
  • training and education for those involved in CIP cases.

 

Enhance Quantity and Quality of Representation

 

Outcome: All parties will have equal access to justice. Each child in a child welfare case will have a guardian ad litem as required by CAPTA.

Representation continues at or near the 100% for children in care. In 2010, the Court sought to address the CASA attorney caseload in Kent County, which far surpasses any other contract attorney caseload. In 2011, the second CASA attorney position was secured for Kent County. Monthly reports show 100% of children represented by Adjudicatory hearing.

Outcome: Representatives of all parties in child welfare cases will have access to timely and appropriate education opportunities.

Delaware is moving towards a model system that strategically plans over a period of years to offer what is needed to ensure all those participating in the Courtroom receive appropriate and high quality training to include:

a.      Basic training

b. Updates on legislation and operations that may impact court processes

c.      Focused sessions on more complex items

d. Presentations in local or state settings, by discipline or multidisciplinary as appropriate

In 2011, CIP funds supported the following training and education opportunities for attorneys involved in child welfare cases, including evaluation of CIP organized sessions:

  • You Gotta Believe! – (permanency for older youth)
  • Child Safety
  • ABA Parent Attorney Conference
  • Children and the Law Conference
  • NAAC Conference
  • Ethics in Child Welfare
  • Protecting Delaware’s Children Conference
Legal Representation of Parties: Training and education
Legal Representation of Parties: Appointing and regulating attorneys

Legal Representation of Parties: CASA programs

 

Collaboration Activities

Outcome: The Court will collaborate with the Child Welfare Agency and Stakeholders to advance CIP, the CFSR and PIP, and the IVE Review and PIP.

In 2011, subjects for the quarterly meetings among stakeholders in each county, and between the Court and agency leadership, included but were not limited to:

  • Children in Court
  • Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security –for at risk youth enrolling students for the 2011-2012 school year
  • Court Room assignments
  • Opening the courtroom doors
  • Children on runaway - CASA attorneys and workers encouraged to probe.
  • CFSR Program Improvement Plan completed and accepted by the feds; recognizes the vast reform efforts accomplished by DFS, Court and partners.
  • Ex parte request by parent attorneys
  • Training opportunities
  • DFS Service Array
  • Witness Notes                 
  • Testimony of Workers
  • Differing to other witnesses        
  • Representation of children (Court requested and secured additional CASA attorney position in Kent County; monthly stats show 100% of children represented by adjudicatory hearing).
  • Requests by parent attorneys for funds for experts
  • Court Room Protocol
  • Amended petitions
  • Preparation for hearings
  • Tracking of Dads and Relatives
  • Reasonable Efforts to Avoid Out of Home Placement
  • Permanency Project for Legacy Case children
  • Data analysis re: children aging out, community partnership to address their needs
  •  Fostering Connections

Further in 2011, the Family Court collaborated with the Division of Family Services to bring 6 days of Darla Henry’s 3-5-7 training to Delaware, primarily for DFS workers, although judicial officers and attorneys in child welfare cases were included.  This training builds on the efforts focused on improving true permanency outcomes.

The Family Court also entered into collaboration with DFS, the University of Delaware (UD), and Jim Casey Foundation to focus on youth aging out of care.  With CIP data funding support, the University is mining DFS data on youth aging out of care and providing analysis to a multidisciplinary Community Partnership Board that includes representatives of all branches of government and leaders in various industries/disciplines.  The Community Partnership Board will be working in groups during the year on various challenges facing youth: housing, education, employment, healthcare, transportation etc. The groups will use the data provided by UD to frame their work.  The University will continue to collect data.  A final report on the work and data analysis is due September 2012.

Community Collaboration


Data Collection and Analysis


In 2011, the Family Court began sharing its Key Court Performance Measures reports with the Child Protection Accountability Commission (attached). In May of 2012, Delaware will be using time at the Judicial Retreat to discuss how to leverage the data/analysis of same for system improvements.

Outcome: Data will show Court orders at each proceeding contain specific findings consistent with ASFA and Court rules.

In 2011, CIP supported the introduction of voice recognition technology to expedite orders and hopefully improve consistency with ASFA/CAPTA requirements. The pilot in three judges’ offices proved highly successful, with one team able to keep orders flowing timely despite the six week leave of the staff member normally responsible for the transcription of the orders.  However, technology updates were needed and there is a learning curve before proficiency is achieved. Currently, additional Judges and staff are being introduced to the technology. An update will be included in Delaware’s 2012 report.

Outcome: Permanency hearings are conducted in a manner consistent with expediting permanency for children.

The Court is beginning to monitor compliance for timely permanency through its data collection project.

Technology: Data collection


Training

Outcome: Permanency goals for children will be established in accordance with federal standards.

In 2011, training and education opportunities afforded the Judges through CIP (including evaluation of CIP organized sessions) included:

  •  Child Safety
  • Annual CIP meeting
  • NCJFCJ in NYC
  • Three Branch Institute
  • Judicial Retreat including:

o   “From Trauma and Maltreatment to Juvenile Delinquency” and “Youth with Learning Disabilities in the Family Court;” 

o   “Autism Spectrum Disorder: What Judges Need to Know”;

o   State DOE and school district attorneys on meeting the needs of learning disabled children; 

o   Data exchange;

o   State children’s department leadership update.

  • Protecting Delaware’s Children multidisciplinary conference including but not limited to:

o   Openings Doors

o   multidisciplinary team responses to child abuse;

o   prosecution in case of non-verbal children.

  • Child Welfare, Education and the Courts Summit
  • Casey Permanency Roundtable Convening

Outcome: Judicial officers will have an understanding of the child welfare environment.

The training initiative, above, is designed to meet this need as well. In addition:

  • The judicial officers met at least quarterly among themselves to discuss challenges and solutions in child dependency and neglect cases, and system issues.
  • In each county, the Family Court CIP Judges held quarterly meetings with stakeholders
  • The CIP Statewide Liaison Judge was joined by a CIP Judge from each of the other counties in quarterly meetings with the agency leadership.
  • Judicial officers continue to attend Youth Advisory Committee activities
  • In addition the Court participates in quarterly Child Protection Accountability Commission meetings, as well as its subcommittees, minutes of which are available on http://courts.delaware.gov/Arms/childadvocate/cpachistory.stm. 

Nebraska

Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative

As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative was kicked off by a statewide Children’s Summit in September 2006.  The Initiative is guided on the state level by the Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice, the project chair, and the local lead judges. The main structure is a network of 25 local multidisciplinary teams working to introduce best practices into their local court systems.

The Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative remains active with local collaborative teams working on system improvements assisted by outcome data, provided by the Fostering Court Improvement partnership, and case time line data; the fully developed interactive website that continues to enjoy significant use by many attorneys and judges and other stakeholders; four regional conferences were held with combined attendance of approximately 400 stakeholders; and continued active leadership and support from our Supreme Court Chief Justice.

The third year of detailed assessments of judicial time frames and child welfare outcomes for each Through the Eyes Teams, Judicial Districts, and the State were conducted and are available at: http://www.throughtheeyes.org/2010_datareports.php.   The data assessments indicated that the time to case closure which had decreased by five months for cases that closed in 2009 compared to those that closed in 2008, increased by one month for cases that closed in 2010 as compared to 2009. Although, the evaluations cannot make causal attributions, 2010 was the first year of the state’s privatization efforts when 4 out of the 6 lead agencies failed. The data as well as reports from judges and other suggest that forward progress in our system has been curtailed. Judges and Through the Eyes Teams were surveyed as part of a Legislative study of the privatization effort. Those reports are available at: http://www.throughtheeyes.org/files/Final%20Judge%20Report.pdf and http://www.throughtheeyes.org/files/Team%20Privatization%20Report%20Final.pdf
Community Collaboration
Technology
Technology: Data Collection

 

Substance Abusing Parent Identification

The CIP continued to work with NDHHS Divisions (Child and Family Services, Behavioral Health, Medicaid, and Public Health) in a large technical assistance project with the National Resource Center of Child Welfare and Substance Abuse. This project involves the development of protocols for the timely identification, assessment, and treatment of substance abusing parents. A protocol regarding substance exposed newborns will also be developed. This project continued to make progress, although the progress was significantly slowed by the problems in the child welfare system and the administrative personal changes that resulted.
Community Collaboration
Treatment of Parties: Other Initiative

 Published Guides

Published guides about the court process for parents, foster parents, and youth continue to be published and distributed at no cost. A comic book for young school aged children and a coloring book for preschoolers were in the development process during this funding period. The CIP distributed the Caregiver Information form to all licensed foster parents and we continue to offer support to the distribution of and use of these forms. The CIP also provided assistance to the Nebraska Foster Youth Council in its development of its Foster Youth Court Form. That form is now available to youth across the state and courts have begun to receive some forms.

The CIP has also continued its support of children’s participation in court.  An empirical research article evaluating children’s participation was published in a peer-reviewed journal. A video for youth and children coming to court has begun development. Micro-grant projects to local Through the Eyes teams have produced child friendly court spaces in three counties.
Treatment of Parties: Other Initiative
Treatment to parties:  Information to parties
Hearing Quality and Depth:  Guidelines, manuals, and benchbooks

 Education Website

The CIP also joined with the Department of Education and the NDHHS Division of Child and Family Services, as well as other stakeholder groups to develop an interactive website entitled Partnering4Students that provides information to professionals about other systems that are involved regarding the education of children in out of home placement. The website is up and running at: http://www.partnering4students.com/
Treatment of Parties
Treatment to parties:  Information to parties

Data Collection and Analysis Grant

      Funds from the CIP Data Collection and Analysis Grant are being used to support the following efforts:

  • Accessing the statewide JUSTICE system on a case-by-case basis and using the database instead of physical case file reviews to assess case timelines for all cases in the state that closed in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
  • Developed individual judge reports that included cases that closed in 2008 and 2009.
  • Continued production of user-friendly individualized team reports that combine court case progression data and child welfare outcome data. During this reporting period we reported on cases that closed in 2010, 2009, and 2008
  • Developed a uniform data entry coding system for dependency cases and trained all court clerks across the state in the system.
  • Continued worked with  the Fostering Court Improvement project that utilizes AFCARS and NCANDS data to provide courts with outcome data regarding children in their jurisdictions. Thanks to complete cooperation and openness from Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, these reports are all available on line.
  • The Douglas County (Omaha) conversion of Juvenile Cases to JUSTICE was completely converted by the end of November, 2011.
  • Conducted a review of court records from a randomized sample of about 400 new dependency cases to assess the prevalence of parental substance abuse problems, time frames to treatment, and kinds of treatment

Technology
Technology: Data Collection

 

Nevada

 The Nevada CIP proudly counts with a multidisciplinary and committed advisory committee.  For this 2012 report Nevada CIP states that all of the efforts below have been the result of the tremendous collaboration led by the Supreme Court's Chief Justice.  

Early Resolution

The Early Representation Project (ERP) provides attorney and paralegal support for legal representation of children at the initial protective custody hearings under the auspices of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.  The goal of the program is to achieve more timely permanency for the children through solution-oriented collaboration by focusing on resolving the safety concerns that resulted in the child’s removal. Toward this end, every child and every parent is provided legal representation beginning with the initial protective custody proceeding.  It also provides education programs for attorneys representing children on best practices for early representation.  In addition, ERP uses the Safety Team Meeting Model, which provides for a gathering of family members, friends, service providers, child welfare staff, and other community stakeholders to strengthen the family, and provide support for the family while facilitating the family’s participation in the decision-making process.

 The attorney appears for, represents, and maintains a caseload of 50 children. Additionally, the attorney represents the children at the Safety Team meetings and assists in developing new protocols for the Juvenile/Family Court to utilize in the early resolution project.  The Department of Family Services has embraced the ERP vision and enthusiastically participated in the extensive training required to implement the ERP vision.  The Court has been assigning two new cases per week to the project. Community partners and conflict counsel are meaningfully participating in the Safety Team meetings.

Since the inception of the program (May 2009), 138 children have been provided legal representation. Of those 138 children, 85 have been reunified and placed back with their parents/guardians, or adopted and their cases closed. Of the remaining 53 children, 15 have been placed back with their parent(s), 22 are in relative or fictive kin placements, 15 remain in foster care, and 1 is in an Other Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (OPPLA).  In a study this year, ERP cases closed an average of 36.8 days sooner than the control cases.

Hearing Quality and Depth
Hearing Quality and Depth: Pilot Programs and Model Courts
Legal Representation of Parties
Legal Representation of Parties: Appointing and Regulating Attorneys

 

Safety Team Facilitator

Essential components of the Safety Team include an assessment and affirmation of family strengths, a problem solving approach, and a focus on developing and maintaining relationships.  The 8th Judicial District identified the need to include a neutral facilitator at the initial Safety Team meetings to assist information gathering and collaborative communication among all parties. Along with service providers, child welfare staff, and other community stakeholders, the Safety Team gathers a supportive circle of family, friends, and others whom the family trusts which benefits the child by creating a system of supports that will sustain the family over time; ultimately reducing the risk of future maltreatment, preventing removal, identifying kinship placements, increasing the variety of solution options, matching the family with appropriate services, and reducing the time to permanency. The introduction of the Safety Team Facilitator has dramatically improved the early resolution process.  From November 2010 to present, in 9 of the 11 cases, the parents are viewed as cooperatively working on their case plan. In 5 of the 11 cases, wardship was not deemed necessary, and in one instance a petition was not filed at all.  As a result of the success of this program, the 8th Judicial District is considering bundling facilitated petitions, facilitated safety teams, and the second protective custody hearing, all serving the goal of early resolution, into a form of dependency mediation.

Alternative Dispute Resolution
Notice to and Participation of Parties
Notice to and Participation of Parties: Participation

 

Second Judicial District’s Dependency Mediation Program

 The 2nd Judicial District Court’s Family Court has implemented dependency mediation as an alternative to judicial proceedings with the intention of developing a model program with protocols easily transferable to other jurisdictions. Court-based mediation in juvenile dependency cases provides both families and professionals with an opportunity to consider the best interests of the child in a confidential, nonjudgmental process facilitated by a trained professional.  Unless the judicial officer determines that mediation is not appropriate, there is a presumption that all contested cases will be automatically referred for mediation. Once the matter is ordered to mediation by the court, attendance at mediation is mandatory. Children may be included in the process on a case-by-case basis.  The program conducted its first mediation in late August 2011. 

Alternative Dispute Resolution
Notice to and Participation of Parties
Notice to and Participation of Parties: Participation

 

Surrogate Education Advocacy Program

The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada’s Educational Surrogate Parent Program (ESPP) provides support to children in the foster care system who need educational surrogates to act as a “parent” to request special education evaluations, identify children with disabilities, and ensure that children with disabilities are provided with a free and appropriate public education as required by Federal law. The targeted goals for this year included increasing the representation of foster children with disabilities, particularly increasing the representation of foster children involved with higher level treatment agencies; improving the training and support of the volunteer surrogates; and updating the training and outreach materials.  Between April 1 and October 1, 2011 an additional 28 surrogates were recruited and trained. Of the 28 new surrogates, 20 have been assigned to 31 additional children. The other new surrogates have asked to remain on the list for an assignment in the near future. Of the 31 newly assigned children, 11 needed special education evaluations and qualified for special education services.

To increase the representation of foster children, ESPP has continued its outreach to higher level therapeutic foster homes and care providers.

 Sexually Exploited Youth Project

 The primary goal of this 8th Judicial District Court project is to develop appropriate and adequate services for sexually exploited children in Clark County who are involved in both the juvenile justice and the child welfare systems. These “crossover youth” have no access to treatment for their commercial sexual exploitation while in detention or following their release. To improve the Court’s response to these youths, this project funds a senior level administrator who liaises with stakeholders, develops protocols with community partners, supports the creation of new and evidenced-based programs, improves strategies for securing funding sources such as Medicaid, and fulfills other advocacy roles.

Data Collection and Analysis Grant

With funds from the CIP Data Collection and Analysis Grant, the Nevada CIP has set the following goals: (1) keep current on national trends/requirements in data collection; (2) identify performance measures for courts in child welfare cases; (3) develop data exchange requirements; (4) identify court child welfare case management systems requirements and standards; (5) implement child welfare data exchanges; (6) implement video conferencing capabilities in courts for use in child welfare cases; and (7) provide project management oversight for data projects.  Specific tasks to achieve these goals are highlighted as follows:

 ·         Performance Measures.  The contractor and Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Statistics staff conducted business analysis to determine best practices and an implementation plan for data sharing and integration among agencies to obtain outcome measures.  This business analysis was the foundation for building the roadmap for the 2nd Judicial District’s electronic data exchange that took place during summer and fall 2010.  Nevada continues to develop procedures for collecting, analyzing, and publishing outcome measures statewide.

 

·         National Child Welfare Data Exchange Project.  As reported in the Court Improvement Progress Report 2009, this project was initiated by Nevada and led by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) to develop national child welfare data exchange standards.  The National Exchange Model (NIEM) 2.1 was released in October, and for the first time included data elements that address the data needs of the dependency and neglect community.  These data elements were captured in the Family Services domain and include the dependency petition, court findings order, service plan, court report, hearing notification, placement change notification, and representation notification.  The CIP intends to operationalize the first phase, notification, in 2012, as described under Electronic Data Exchange in the 2nd Judicial District

 

 

·         Early Resolution Program South Facilitated Petition Pilot Program.  The CIP awarded a grant from the Data Collection and Analysis Grant funds to support the ERP South Facilitated Petition Pilot Program.  Specifically, funds were awarded to allow the office to purchase a scanner and electronic editing equipment, so that the discovery process could be expedited and, as a result, cases could be processed through the program more quickly.  Preliminary data indicates the cases in the pilot group have reduced the number of days to process discovery and the number of days to case resolution. 

 

Data Driven Decision Making Project

Nevada's Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) recently opted in to Chapin Hall's multi-state repository of child welfare specific data.  Users can access reports in multiple ways, allowing for either statewide analysis or analysis by county, as well as analysis of outcomes data.  Nevada's judicial system is a vital part of the child welfare system and the reports generated will be available to stakeholders, such as the courts, which can assist in judicial decision making. 

Technology
Technology: Data Collection

 Electronic Data Exchange in the 2nd Judicial District

The ultimate goal identified in the Washoe County Data Exchange Roadmap is to share the dependency petition electronically between the agency and the Court. The analysis of the business process and technology currently in place indicates that this goal is achievable. However, given the significant adjustment and resources, it was agreed that this will require a balanced approach that leverages existing capabilities while methodically advancing Washoe County toward electronic integration. This carefully orchestrated approach seeks to achieve incremental development; to leverage existing resources and technological capabilities; and to prioritize initiatives based on identified dependencies and the technological capabilities that exist today.

Technology
Technology: Data Collection

 Training and Education

Through the CIP Basic and Training Grants, the Nevada CIP is focusing on the following initiatives:

 ·     Providing opportunities for stakeholders to keep current on education and training.  The Nevada CIP used Training Grant funds to provide the 2011 CIP Conference: Focus on Kids.  Nevada CIP also sponsored partners’ attendance at relevant training, e.g., National CASA Conference, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ (NCJFCJ) conference on Juvenile and Family Law, the 2010 Victims Act Model Courts All-Site Conference in October 2010, the Second National Parent’s Attorneys Conference, and the 14th ABA National Conference on Children and the Law, and the 2011 National Pathways to Adulthood. 

 

·         Develop and Implement Collaborative Multidisciplinary Training.  Training grant funds were used to partially fund the Early Resolution Project, the Surrogate Education Advocacy Program, the Sexually Exploited Youth Project, the Safety Team Facilitator, and the Dependency Mediation Program.

Training and Education
Training and Education: Judicial Training
Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training

Training and Education: Other Training




New Hampshire


To Table of Contents

New Hampshire
 
The New Hampshire Model Court Project has been described in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports.  The Model Court worked on the following projects in 2010:
 
Model Court

Throughout 2011, the CIP Coordinator spent considerable time working with the Model Court Project’s lead judge and supporting the project’s goals of developing two sets of protocols:  One involving the participation of children and youth in abuse or neglect court hearings and another for older youth with Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) as a permanency plan in abuse or neglect cases.  The New Hampshire Court Improvement Project again partnered with the Model Court Project and, specifically, the CIP Basic grant supported the Model Court in several important ways, including:

  1. Coordinating and participating in Model Court executive committee meetings. The CIP Coordinator worked with the project’s Lead Judge to coordinate monthly or bi-monthly Executive Committee meetings
  2. Protocols to improve practice. The Model Court’s Executive Committee established goal specific subcommittees whose membership included representatives from the Executive Committee as well as members from major stakeholder groups. 
  3. Children and Youth in Court Protocols.  A goal identified in the CIP’s Strategic Plan, and also a goal of the Model Court, is to increase the participation by children and youth in abuse and neglect court hearings.  To that end, the Model Court Executive Committee established in 2010, a multi-disciplinary subcommittee, chaired by CASA’s Executive Director.  Between January and May 2011, that subcommittee met and developed protocols related to children and youth and their attendance at and participation in abuse or neglect court hearings.  Other activities by the committee include:
  • Cross-Site Visit to Boise, Idaho.  To assist the Children and Youth subcommittee and advance its protocol work, the CIP sponsored a two-day cross-site visit to Boise, Idaho.  This site was selected because of the extensive work being done in Boise to have children and youth attend abuse or neglect court hearings as well some similar demographics between Idaho and New Hampshire.  
  • Finalized Children and Youth protocols and evaluation tools.  In June 2011, the Model Court Project introduced its Draft Protocols on Children and Youth in Court. 
  • Protocol trainings.  Following the June 2011 multi-disciplinary training on the Children and Youth Protocols, the CIP Coordinator met with the judge and staff of the Concord Family Division to further discuss the Model Court protocols and their use and implementation in the Concord Family Division.  In September 2011, the CIP Coordinator, CASA’s Executive Director and a supervisor from DCYF presented on the Children and Youth Protocols at a workshop at the Annual Attorney General’s Conference.  
  • Video for Children and Youth about attending court hearings.  In November, the CIP Coordinator convened a multi-disciplinary group to discuss creating two videos, one for unrepresented parents in abuse or neglect cases and another for children and youth interested in attending court hearings.  In November and December the video committee finalized a script for a six-minute video and shot footage on two days.  The video will be another tool used to help us inform children and youth about their opportunity to attend court hearings and will encourage children and youth to attend court hearings or write a letter to the judge, draw a picture or send a photograph.  It is anticipated the video will be available by February 2012.  Distribution of the video will accompany the training done in 2012 in the four courts where the Model Court Protocols will next be introduced.

AAPLA Model Court Subcommittee.  APPLA is the least preferred permanency plan, the committee acknowledged that in some very limited circumstances APPLA is, in fact, the most appropriate plan for an older youth.  In those limited instances, there should be protocols available to guide courts, DCYF, CASA and other stakeholders so that each system’s roles and responsibilities are clearly understood.   A multidisciplinary APPLA subcommittee was established and chaired by a DCYF Administrator actively involved with the Model Court since 2008.  The multi-disciplinary subcommittee includes representatives from DCYF, the courts, CASA, the Bar, a foster parent, former foster youth, the CIP Coordinator and consultant and one of the state’s leading adoption specialist.  Other work by the committee includes:

  1. Research on APPLA.  To advance the APPLA subcommittee’s protocol work, the CIP consultant conducted extensive research on APPLA, national trends related to it and what other states have been able to do for older youth with APPLA as a permanency plan.  That report was completed in July 2011.
  2. APPLA Cross-Site Visit - “You Gotta Believe” in New York.  To help inform the ongoing work of and challenges faced by the APPLA subcommittee, the CIP, on behalf of the Model Court, has continued to reach out to Pat O’Brien from the “You Gotta Believe” program in New York.  Over the past year, we have had a conference call and various discussions with Mr. O’Brien.  In early September, the CIP sponsored a one-day cross-site visit to the “You Gotta Believe” program.  
  3. APPLA Protocols.  Throughout 2011, the APPLA subcommittee continued to develop draft protocols and completed its work in November 2011.
Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children

As reported last year, following New Hampshire’s ICPC assessment conducted by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (Council), the CIP reconvened a multidisciplinary committee to review the assessment recommendations.  The committee determined the CIP should contract with the Council to develop a comprehensive ICPC Court Guide intended to serve as an educational and practice tool for judges and stakeholders in New Hampshire. 
The New Hampshire ICPC Court Guide, along with a companion Judicial Bench card, was recently completed and will be made available in 2012 for statewide distribution to judges, court staff, DCYF, CASA and other system stakeholders. 
 
Loss of Representation for Parents in Abuse and Neglect Cases

Beginning July 1, 2011, New Hampshire state law changed and court-appointed counsel was eliminated for parents in abuse or neglect cases.  Since that time, there have been many discussions and meetings to consider how best to respond to this legislative change.  Additionally, on September 21, 2011, the Circuit Court Administrative Judge convened a multi-disciplinary group.  At that time, it was agreed pre-adjudicatory mediation should be explored in abuse or neglect cases, which was supported by the judges and court staff in attendance as well as DCYF’s Director.  Since that time, two additional meetings have been held with the newly hired Mediation Coordinator and a third meeting is scheduled for early 2012.  There is interest in using CIP funds to support a pilot mediation project in abuse or neglect cases that is projected to be introduced in two courts (Rochester and Dover) in early 2012.  The CIP Coordinator has raised with the committee that if CIP funds are used to support mediation we need to identify goals for the pilot project, related activities and outcomes and an evaluation plan, including comparison courts, for any pre-adjudicatory mediation in abuse or neglect cases.  Those conversations are underway and will continue in early 2012. 

Orders Of Protection in Child Protection Cases


In October 2011, the CIP Coordinator, in partnership with the court’s Domestic Violence Specialist, re-convened a multi-disciplinary group to review orders of protection in abuse or neglect cases.  The CIP Coordinator and Domestic Violence Specialist reviewed more than 50 Orders of Protection issued by judges over a three-year period and determined the court order should be revised and protocols developed.  The revised order includes an Acknowledgment of Receipt (when the person against whom order is issued is at the court heating) and Return of Service form (when the person against whom the order is not at court hearing when order is issued).  Additionally, the order provides notification to the person against whom the order is issued of the following:  violation, arrest and detention procedure, seizure of firearms, ammunition and deadly weapons and enhanced penalties.  The revised order was approved in December 2011 by the Administrative Judge of the Circuit Court and went through the court’s administrative approval process.
Community Collaboration
Hearing Quality and Depth
Hearing Quality and Depth: Pilot Projects and Model Courts
Hearing Quality and Depth:  Data management and technology
Legal Representation of Parties
Notice to and Participation of Parties
Treatment of Parties
Treatment of Parties: Information to Parties
Training and Education
Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training

Data Collection and Analysis Grant
 
Data collection activities conducted by the CIP in 2011 include the following:

Data Warehouse

As previously reported, a data warehouse was built in August 2008 to provide a tool capable of producing data performance measures and reports needed to collect and analyze data for child protection and related case types.  Between March 2011 and October 2011 the data warehouse underwent a third phase of modifications.  As part of this phase, the CIP obtained six new measures relating to the timeliness of permanency hearings and permanency orders.  Additionally, this phase provided an opportunity to improve upon previous measures and develop additional exception reports.  The Data/Practice Specialist created reports for these measures using Crystal Reports.  This was possible, in part, due to the ease of being able to copy and modify reports of similar timeliness measures. 

Data Performance Measures and Reports

In last year’s report it was noted that six new measures regarding the permanency stage of an abuse/neglect case were drafted.  In 2011 the Data/Practice Specialist worked extensively with DataSense and the administrative office of the court’s senior programmer to bring the following measures into the data warehouse.  

•    Application of Performance Measures and Reports.  The data project is moving from having established a mechanism for collecting data into a stage where data has been collected, and is now available to be analyzed and applied.  This summer a major management restructuring took place, whereby the three trial courts (District, Family, and Probate) were joined under one Circuit Court.  This resulted in 51 clerks and register positions evolving into 21 circuit court clerk positions, the impact of which, although not visible to the public, was significant for court staff and administrators. This change disrupted expected communication about the data project, and occupied much of the courts’ attention.  One benefit of this change is that circuit court clerks have greater management responsibilities than they did previously as clerks.  As a result, it is expected that they will become more active consumers of data as it comes to be viewed as a management tool. 

A significant policy change occurred July 1, 2011, which resulted in the loss of court-appointed counsel for parents in abuse/neglect cases.  Anecdotal reports indicated that DCYF (Division of Children, Youth, and Families, NH’s child protection agency) attorneys were now hesitant to enter into consent agreements with parents, unsure of parents’ ability to fully understand the consequences of signing such an agreement without the advice of counsel.  Using a report comparing the number of cases with consent agreements versus the number of cases with adjudicatory orders, the Data/Practice Specialist was able to report that preliminary data indicated that there had been a 22% decline in the number of cases reaching a consent since the policy change.  This report will continue to be monitored regularly to assess trends in this area.

In October 2011 the CIP contracted with  a criminal justice professor from Plymouth State University, to increase the CIP’s capacity to analyze and apply data.  The consultant provided valuable advice on how the current data reports might be revised to present data in ways that would be more meaningful to the user. 

Data Quality Assurance

Advances were made in the following areas:
  • Exception Reports.  As previously reported, in conjunction with the development of the data reports, exception reports were created to help court staff identify data entry errors that would impact the data reports.  In 2011 exception reports were delivered to court staff in February, June, and August.  Improvements were made to the exception reports this year to make them more user-friendly.  All types of exceptions (those pertaining to the abuse/neglect case, TPR case, surrender case, or the individual child) are now listed on one report.
  • Abuse/Neglect case relations warning Message.  When identifying areas where data entry appeared problematic, it became apparent that two related issues stood out as being persistent challenges.  These were the requirements to identify a case with a primary juvenile case flag and to relate cases in the courts’ case management system (Odyssey).  Initial attempts to resolve these issue included offering additional training, communicating directly and regularly with those entering the data when cases needed to be fixed, sending reminder e-mails, and creating a diagram resource outlining the procedures.
Model Court

The Data/Practice Specialist continued to work with the Model Court project in 2011 by participating in the evaluation of the post-permanency related protocols and Children/Youth in Court protocols that were developed and implemented by the project. 
Technology
Technology: Data Collection
Hearing Quality and Depth:  Data management and technology
 
Training Grant and Opportunities
 
New Hampshire used its Training Grant funds to support the following activities:
 
Judges and Marital Masters.  The Judicial Branch spent much of 2011 working on the complete restructuring of the district, family, and probate courts into a Circuit Court.  The CIP Training Specialist worked with the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Services that put together a training regarding substance abuse evaluations in family cases.  This training was well received by judges.  The full day training was recorded and the materials and video are available to all court judges and staff on the court’s intranet system, known as JIBB (Judicial Branch Information Bulletin Board).  The CIP supported five Family Division judges attendance at the Annual Attorney General’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect Conference.
 
Parents’ Attorney Training.  this past legislative session there was a significant change in New Hampshire law regarding the appointment of parent attorneys in abuse and neglect cases.  The statute removed the authority of the court to appoint attorneys for parents.  The CIP Training Specialist worked with the Circuit Court Administrators and DCYF to ensure that parent attorneys were informed of expectations about how to handle withdrawal from cases or in the alternative, provide the court with an explanation as to how the attorney should proceed if continuing representation pro bono.  

DCYF Attorneys.  The CIP’s primary work with DCYF attorneys this past year included coordination of the Child Welfare Law Specialist (CWLS) Certification with the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC).   Three DCYF attorneys applied for certification this year.  The CIP continues to support the current CWLS’ by providing assistance to meet the NACC annual fees.
 
Education Issues.  The CIP Training Specialist spoke to the New Hampshire Association of Special Education Administrators (NHASEA) at their June meeting and was also invited by the Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education to present at the NHASEA August Academy regarding the work of the Education Protocol Committee and the efforts to have better communication between the schools and the courts.  In November, the Children’s Bureau sponsored the National Summit for Child Welfare, Education and the Courts.  The CIP sponsored two judges who have been involved in the Model Court Project and education related issues for several years.  Those attending the Summit will meet in January 2012 to discuss next steps at a meeting convened by one of the judges.

Cross-Disciplinary Work.  The CIP Training Specialist and CIP Data Specialist were involved in creating the evaluation tools for the Children and Youth in Court protocols and participated in a workshop offered by the Endowment for Health related to evaluation to understand some fundamental considerations as we moved forward.  Additionally, the CIP Training Specialist organized five trainings for the Children and Youth in Court Model Court work in 2011. Because the large, full-day training would require foster parents to miss a full day at work, the CIP sponsored two follow up trainings that focused more on the foster parent role in the protocols.

The CIP supported the third DCYF/CASA Summit.  This annual Summit provides an opportunity for two organizations to offer a full day of information sharing and training as well as communication/collaborative skill building.  A main topic was DCYF’s Practice Model work.

The CIP contracted with the National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges to develop the ICPC Judicial Guidebook.  It was expected that this document would be disseminated in the spring, however, the DCYF ICPC Deputy Compact Administrator shared with the CIP Training Specialist that the Regulations were likely going to significantly change at the annual meeting, so the release of the Guidebook was delayed until those changes became finalized.  The ICPC Guidebook and accompanying bench card will be released to judges, CASA, and DCYF and made available on-line in 2011.

Technology.  The CIP Training Specialist worked with the Judicial Branch video conferencing team comprised of representatives from all administrative offices of the courts.  To support the video conferencing effort, the CIP purchased five laptops and webcams that will be installed in five geographically central locations to facilitate further training.

The CIP Training Specialist was introduced to an on-line tool called E-Studio through working with DCYF.  This service allows documents to be posted and edited securely on-line and allows multiple folders, permissions, and sharing capabilities.  The CIP has contracted with DHHS to have the ability for two CIP accounts that can be used for Model Court work, committee work, or other CIP efforts. 
Training and Education
Training and Education: Judicial Training
Training and Education: Attorney/GAL Programs
Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training
Technology:  Equipment




New Jersey


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New Jersey
Basic and Data Grants
Technology Projects

 

As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, New Jersey developed the Family Automated Case Tracking System (FACTS).  FACTS is a central Family Court case tracking system and processes cases in real time locally in each of New Jersey's 21 counties.  The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Family Practice Division provides monthly reports with statewide and county-level data, highlighting trends and issues. The AOC Family Practice Division's Research and Statistical Group processes information for eleven docket types tracking court-related events in the lives of families.  Within the Family Division, the Children in Court (CIC) grouping of cases is the broad designation for the different types of child welfare cases. This grouping consists of five interrelated dockets: (1) (FC) Child Placement Review; (2) (FN) Child Abuse or Neglect; (3) (FG) Termination of Parental Rights; (4) (FA) Adoption; and (5) (FL) Kinship Legal Guardianship.  The FC, FA and FL dockets are child-centered (one docket entry is created for each child). FN and FG are family-centered (one docket number is created for each family).  This is particularly problematic when a family contains multiple children.

 

With both its CIP Basic Grant and the Data Collection and Analysis Grant, New Jersey is working to create a web-enabled adoption docket (FA Docket) in FACTS.  Historically, adoptions are processed by the Surrogate’s Office in each county and are not tracked in FACTS.  As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, the Children in Courts Improvement Committee (CICIC) formed an Adoptions Subcommittee to develop standards and best practices for processing adoption cases and to assist in the development of an adoptions module in FACTS.  A consultant was hired to provide an estimate of the scope and cost of developing and implementing a new web-enabled FA Docket in FACTS.  As a result of the consultant’s report, the consultant and the AOC’s Information Technology Office (ITO) developed a three-year cost analysis and plan to develop and implement a new web-based system for the adoptions docket. 

 

Tasks are divided between the CIP Basic Grant and the CIP Data Collection and Analysis Grant.  The Basic Grant is providing for the following components under the 2010-2012 grant:

·         Display case aging report to view the age of active cases, filtered by case type and status.

·         Display case inventory report to view all cases, filtered by case type and status. 

·         Display case statistics report to view new, active and disposed count of cases by case type.

·         Display individual statistics report to view new, active and disposed count of adoptees based on the adoption type and judgment type.

·         Display FC follow-up report to view Child Placement docket cases and DYFS status for closed DYFS adoption cases.

·         Display received fees report to view a list of fees collected for a time period.

·         "Print reports" is created to allow for the printing of all reports. 

The creation of the web-enabled FA Docket in FACTS was completed in 2011.  During this grant cycle, grant funds will be utilized for post–production support and to create enhancements for the recently created web-enabled FA docket.

The two enhancements to the FA system that are priorities for the judges and Surrogates are: (1) create a tickler system that will help the user work more effectively by stating reminders and providing a "to do" list; and (2) create an archiving system to facilitate the uploading of adoption indexes into the searchable index of sealed adoption cases in the FA system.  This will replace the paper indexes of old historic sealed cases currently maintained by Surrogates. 

Technology

Technology: Data Collection

Technology: Information Sharing

Technology: Internet Development

 

Basic and Training Grants

Training and Education

 

With funds from the CIP Basic and Training Grant, New Jersey supported the following initiatives:

 

  • New Jersey Statewide Summit.  CIP funds supported a two-day summit, “Achieving Brighter Futures for Our Youth:  Their Future Is Our Future,” in May 2011.  The summit brought together stakeholders from all over New Jersey, and workshop topics included (1) what permanency means to foster youth; (2) successfully “aging out” of the system; (3) locating extended families and engaging fathers; (4) ethical issues; (5) determining causation of traumatic injuries; (6) substance abuse; (7) maintaining and improving family contact; (8) the impact of the Fostering Connections Act; and (9) the consequences of children remaining in foster care.  There were 525 judges and child welfare stakeholders attended this two-day event, the first multiple day event in New Jersey's CIP history.
  • Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) of NJ Strategic Planning Trainings.  Due to funds remaining in the Summit budget, we received permission to use a portion of those funds to reimburse the Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Jersey (CASA of NJ) the costs associated with holding strategic planning trainings to produce a final three year strategic plan, which would include incorporating trainings and technical assistance, public relations and marketing and increasing funding sources and/or identifying new ones.  In September 2011, a consultant facilitated a retreat for CASA of NJ's Board of Trustees and local CASA programs on Resource Development, Revenue Sharing, and Cause Related Marketing. The retreat included: discussions on fundraising and marketing CASA programs statewide in order to generate sufficient revenue for the entire CASA network with the goal of providing a CASA volunteer to every child in NJ who needs one; review and revision of revenue sharing, resource development, and cause-related marketing policies, with the aim of recommending workable policies that may be adopted by CASA of NJ’s Board of Trustees. CASA of NJ exists to deliver the following services to the CASA network: 1) training; 2) technical assistance; 3) funding; and 4) public education. The final plan directs the action items for CASA of NJ to ensure sustainable quality CASA programs statewide.
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates of NJ Medical Advocacy Trainer Training.  On September 22, 2011, training was held for all CASA local program trainers to learn how to deliver the new Medical Advocacy training for CASA volunteers. The training was developed over the course of the year in order for all volunteers to learn how to work with the medical systems, which serve the children who are assigned CASA volunteers. The primary goal of the Medical Advocacy Initiative is to ensure that the child is receiving healthcare services.
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates of NJ Search and Connect Project Training.  The Search and Connect project is a pilot program taking place in Essex County.  The Essex County CASA Search and Connect Project enlists volunteers to research family and close connections to the children CASA serves with the goal of identifying individuals who will be resources for the children when they age out of the system. Essex County CASA held a Search and Connect Training in May, 2011, for CASA staff and volunteers.  Experts from Catholic Community Services of Western Washington presented a two day training to Essex personnel and CASA program staff from across the state to learn how to conduct a "Family Search & Connect" (FSC) project. Topics included kinship and relative care that support FSC as well as lessons learned from training.
  • Court Appointed Special Advocate of NJ Volunteer Training Program.  The CIP has used funds for CASA of NJ to provide a "train the facilitator" program to train 35 local CASA staff members on the National CASA Association Volunteer Training Curriculum.  Once trained, these individuals are able to deliver the 30-hour pre-service CASA volunteer training for new volunteer recruits, utilizing the National CASA Association Volunteer Training Curriculum.  This training took place in three parts in January and February of 2011
  • National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ 74th Annual Conference.  The Annual Conference was held in July 2011.  The conference focused on a wide range of juvenile and family law topics including child abuse and neglect, trauma, custody and visitation, high conflict divorce, juvenile justice, domestic violence, substance abuse, and more.  New Jersey was able to send 12 judges, two court staff members and six child welfare stakeholders to this event. 
  • National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ Child Abuse and Neglect Institute.  The CANI was held in June 2011 and is a best practice training for judges.  The program brings together national and local faculty to teach on topics including hearing practice, child development, substance abuse and cutting-edge court improvement developments.  CANI also includes case applications and strategic planning sessions to assist judicial participants in developing strategies for implementing best practices.  Four judges were able to attend.
  • Rutgers Child Advocacy Center (CAC) Fringe.  The Rutgers Child Advocacy Center (CAC), in conjunction with the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part, has been educating foster youth, ages 14-21, through a community education project, Aging Out:  Don’t Miss Out.  The Aging Out Project is facilitated by an attorney.  These events provide valuable information to youth, but they also provide the framework for successful collaboration between the courts and other stakeholders in the community.
  • Cross Training Between Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) and Courts in Middlesex Vicinage.  In 2011, the CICIC funded a multidisciplinary training between DYFS and the courts, where stakeholders and CIC staff in Middlesex County learned about the DYFS system and how services are provided to children and families.  DYFS staff learned about the flow of CIC cases from the court’s perspective.  The training covered the following areas: (1) a detailed look at the flow of services from a court order to the implementation of care; (2) information on available services contracted by DYFS; (3) how DYFS services benefit children and their families; (4) how services are assigned; (5) information on the availability of services and why the courts and DYFS should collaborate when resources are limited; (6) information regarding the role of Division of Child Behavioral Health Services (DCBHS), the contracted systems administrator and CMOs; (7) the role of DYFS in obtaining and implementing services for children with behavioral needs; (8) the role of DYFS in obtaining and implementing other services such as psychological and psychiatric evaluations and treatment, substance abuse evaluations and treatment, medical care, visitation, day care, food, clothing, shelter, transportation and educational matters; (9) the obligations and responsibilities of DYFS to access and fund services; and (10) how services are contracted and implemented.  In addition, DYFS liaisons, supervisors, and caseworkers received the following information: (1) an overview of the flow of cases within the courts, from the time a complaint is filed through the final disposition; (2) a review of the court’s expectations at each stage of a case from a new filing or an emergency removal to the Permanency Hearing; (3) what information is expected from DYFS for each court event; (4) who is expected to be at each court event; (5) who can substitute when the primary person cannot attend; and (6) what relief can be requested from the courts.

Training and Education

Training and Education:  Judicial training

Training and Education:  Multidisciplinary training

Training and Education:  CASA/Social Worker training

Other training

 

 

Publications

·         2011-2012 Parent Calendars.  The CICIC has continued its commitment to the use of parent calendars in 20 New Jersey counties by funding the creation and formatting of a 2011-2012 parent calendar.  The parent calendars contain county specific information relating to housing, mental health, addiction and other services.  They also contain useful information about child welfare, termination of parental rights and how to find a lawyer.  The AOC has been working to create a questionnaire to be distributed with the Parent Calendar, which will ascertain the level of assistance this tool offers to parents involved in child welfare matters.  This questionnaire must undergo Judiciary approval processes, but the intention is to have a product completed by the 2013-2014 printing.

 

·         Foster Care Alumni Association Book:  FLUX:  Life After Foster Care.  The CICIC has used funds from both the 2010-12 and 2011-13 Training Grants to purchase copies of a book entitled. “FLUX: Life After Foster Care,” from the Foster Care Alumni Association to give to foster youth in Independent Living or youth in the process of entering Independent Living.  The book was written by a former foster child who asked, "What do I wish someone had told ME when I was 15, 18 or 25?"  The book explores biological family relationships, building support systems, parenting and intimacy topics.

 

·         Termination of Parental Rights Handbook – Legal Services of NJ.   CIP again funded the printing costs for additional copies of the Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ) handbook entitled, “Termination of Parental Rights:  A Handbook for Parents,” which is distributed to parents to aid them when DYFS takes legal action to terminate their parental rights. 

Training and Education

Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training

Training and Education: Training Materials and Benchbooks

Treatment of Parties

Treatment of Parties: Information to Parties




New Mexico


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New Mexico

 

CIP Committees

 

In June 2009, the New Mexico Supreme Court formally recognized the New Mexico Court Improvement Project (CIP) as a Commission and Advisory Body to the Court.  The Court, in its order, recognized the CIP’s accomplishments and the importance of its work on behalf of New Mexico’s children and families.  Although now a formal Supreme Court Commission, the CIP continues to accomplish most of its work through committees.  These are the current committees:

 

       Children’s Law Institute (CLI) Planning Committee.  The CLI Planning Committee works with the Corinne Wolfe Children’s Law Center, the Judicial Education Center, the Children, Youth and Families Division (CYFD), New Mexico CASA, and others to plan and conduct the annual Children’s Law Institute.

 

       Quality of Advocacy Committee (QUAC).  The QUAC has successfully worked for increases to the Court-Appointed Attorney Fee Fund (CAAFF), created the new Youth Attorney position (to represent youth in the foster care system who are 14 and over), developed performance standards for court-appointed attorneys, and hosted a summit to evaluate the model.  It is now working to evaluate best practices to support attorneys, continue efforts to increase funding, and streamline and improve processes. 

 

       CIP/PIP Committee.  The CIP/PIP Committee is working collaboratively with the Children’s Law Center, CYFD, and other stakeholders to address timeliness of court hearings, timeliness of reunifications, reunification cases that meet the 15/22 criteria with attention to extenuating circumstances, timeliness of adoptions, expediting termination of parental rights, adoption of older youth, placement stability, concurrent planning, and other issues identified by the committee.  To improve the rate of “adjudications completed,” a plan was designed and implemented to conduct Child Welfare Improvement Planning (CWIP) meetings in all 13 Judicial Districts, integrating all three CIP grants to conduct training and facilitate informed discussions.  Local CWIP meetings began in September 2009.  Stakeholders completed an online self-assessment prior to the meetings, with findings presented at the meetings.  Unique Judicial District data profiles were created for all 13 Districts to inform the convening of local meetings. The profiles were intended to provide a snapshot of what is happening for children locally and what could be contributing factors to abuse/neglect and barriers to expediting permanency.  Following the data presentation, the CIP offered training on effective strategies and promising practices.  The afternoon served as a working session where stakeholders walked through a process to identify immediate ways to improve systems and outcomes, and develop action plans accordingly.  The action plans were designed to address a specific need, identify activities, responsible parties, and a timeline for implementing the action steps.  In March 2010, follow-up conference calls were scheduled and conducted in all 13 Judicial Districts to discuss progress made on the individualized action plans.  The following themes emerged from these calls: (1) stakeholders report a decrease in child abuse and neglect cases across the state; (2) cases are more complicated and take longer; (3) CYFD staffing, vacancies, and furloughs are impacting cases and the court process; (4) there is a great amount of interest in replicating the First Steps Toward Reunification (FSTR) model in other judicial districts, which is discussed in Training and Education; (5) stakeholders want training on how to run an early parent engagement program in their district; (6) many districts are implementing scheduling orders and using advanced calendaring with success; (7) stakeholders report an increase in both communication and the ease of communication with child welfare partners since the CWIP meeting; and (8) annual local CWIP meetings would be well received.

Community Collaboration

 

                                           Increased Quality of Advocacy

 

As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, the CIP is working to improve the quality of representation by court-appointed attorneys.  Recent areas of focus include the following:

 

       Increased compensation for court-appointed attorneys.  As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, court-appointed attorneys are paid through the Court Appointed Attorney Fee Fund (CAAFF).  In FY09 the New Mexico Legislature allocated just over $4.7 million to the CAAFF.  Approximately 90 percent of the CAAFF is used to pay for attorneys appointed in child abuse and neglect cases under the Children’s Code.  The remaining funds are used to pay attorneys to represent indigent parties in mental health and other statutorily mandated proceedings requiring the appointment of an attorney.  Attorneys are selected by the district court through a Request for Proposals process and contract directly with the district court, subject to review and approval by the Administrative Office of the Court (AOC).  The AOC prepared a model contract for use by the district courts but courts may modify the contract to meet their needs.  Nearly all contract attorneys have “flat rate” contracts.  All contracted attorneys are required to (1) complete 10 hours of training relevant to their practice; (2) meet the practice standards adopted by the New Mexico Supreme Court; and (3) complete an online attorney log.  There appears to be little, if any, consistent effort on the part of the district courts to insure that these training requirements and standards are being met.  The AOC and the Judicial Information Division are working together to create “reports” based on data from the log.  This data, through the third quarter of FY10, indicates that the average hourly rate for contract attorneys in abuse and neglect cases varies from $33.47 to $126.13. The statewide average is $60.04.  With the exception of the First Judicial District, every court appoints “non-contract” attorneys to compensate for a shortage of contract attorneys in children’s court cases.  Many abuse and neglect cases involve multiple fathers and most courts have few contracted respondents’ attorneys.  Non-contract attorneys in abuse and neglect cases are paid $30.00 per hour with a fee cap of $600 per case.  Both contract and non-contract attorneys submit their invoices to the district court for payment.  District court staff completes the payment information required by the online SHARE system and forwards the invoice, and supporting documentation, to the AOC.  The AOC reviews the invoices and then forwards them to Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) payment.  The first step in researching the feasibility of establishing a new process, structure, or organization for CAAFF management was to undertake an initial assessment, which as previously reported, took place in 2008.  As a result of the assessment, the following areas of concern were identified: 

 

    • Conflicting Roles.  While the AOC is responsible for the funds associated with the CAAFF, management of the individual contracts falls to the district courts.  As a result, district court judges are responsible for selecting the attorneys who appear before them, reviewing payment requests, and assessing the attorneys’ performance.  A number of judges are uncomfortable with these dual roles and would prefer that district courts maintain responsibility for selecting the contractors, but that the AOC or some other organization assumes responsibility for managing the contracts.

 

    • Attorney Performance.  Judges and attorneys have raised concerns about the quality of representation in abuse and neglect cases. Concerns include attorneys who do not see their clients, fail to appear at hearings, demean their clients during meetings, and fail to advocate on behalf of their clients.  There is no standard process or procedure for raising concerns about an attorney’s performance and attorneys, judges, and clients are unclear about how and to whom to raise issues regarding an attorney’s competence.

 

    • Nonstandard Contracts.  District courts may modify the standard contract to meet their individual needs.  While some variation is important to meet the court’s needs, key provisions regarding billing, expenses, education, and compliance with Supreme Court approved practice standards should be included in all Children’s Court attorney contracts.

 

    • Inconsistent Reimbursement of Costs and Expenses.  The standard contract contains a provision that allows attorneys to seek reimbursement of “unusual expenses,” such as discovery and expert witness fee costs, contingent upon the judge’s approval.  Some judges routinely grant such requests; others do not. Reimbursement is also contingent upon available funding.

 

    • Inconsistent Fiscal Monitoring.  Each district court is allocated a specific amount of money from the CAAFF.  District court staff is responsible for encumbering funds to cover contract payments and are also responsible for entering an individual attorney’s monthly payment information into the SHARE system.  The AOC, however, is responsible for managing the entire fund.  This bifurcated system creates challenges in managing payments to both contract and non-contract attorneys.  For example, DFA requires that all funds for professional services (contract and non- contract) be grouped together in one account.  For accounting purposes there is no distinction between contract and non-contract attorneys nor is there any distinction between one district court and another.  Any money not encumbered is available in the system.  In FY10, some courts failed to encumber sufficient funds to cover their contract payments.  All of the un-encumbered funds were exhausted by the end of March 2010, leaving courts “short” on their final contract payments.  Although attorneys will ultimately be paid either out of the district court’s budget or out of the FY11 allocation to the CAAFF, payments may be delayed, posing a hardship to the attorneys. 

 

    • Online Attorney Log.  Since July 2008 all contracted attorneys have been required to complete and submit a monthly online attorney log.  However, not all attorneys did so nor did the district courts require them to submit the log to be paid.  Effective December 2008, all attorneys were required to submit their online log with the payment invoice or not be paid.  There are variances in the way attorneys are accounting for their time and technical problems with the website.  Most of these issues have been addressed and the quality of the data continues to improve. There is, however, a need to begin to generate regular and reliable reports from the data gathered by the online attorney log.

 

    • Inconsistent Appointment Criteria.  Attorneys are to be appointed only when the client is indigent.  In Children’s Court, some judges require an indigency determination; others assume the parties are indigent.  There is confusion about the standard and who is responsible for determining indigency.  The Children’s Court Rules Committee has recently proposed a standard indigency form, which will help address, but not fully resolve, this issue.

 

    • Non-Contract Attorneys.  The appointment of non-contract attorneys raises several issues.  Some non-contract attorneys have little or no experience and interest in this area.  With the onerous paperwork required to receive payment, many of these attorneys do not bill for their time.  This failure to bill makes it hard to track how much money is being spent on these attorneys and determine the need for more contract attorneys.

 

To simplify the CAAFF system, work towards statewide consistency, and ensure equal access to justice, the QUAC recommends shifting the management of the CAAFF to a centralized management system run by the AOC, where it is currently housed.  This shift would streamline the system and allow for an equitable allocation of resources and a uniform monitoring process.  Other advantages of the shift include the following:  (1) centralization can be helpful during lean economic times; (2) money would be controlled by the AOC to simplify the ability to monitor and track resources, respond to needs statewide, and ensure consistency of     routine          costs such as expert witnesses,    etc.; (3) contracts would be standardized and attorneys would contract with the AOC instead of with the individual judicial district; (4) attorneys would be held to the same standards statewide; (5) forms would be uniform across the state to increase efficiency; and (6) the AOC would develop a grievance process and be able to conduct necessary corrective action.

 

           Develop a legislative package to increase appropriations to the CAAFF.  The state legislature reduced funding to the CAAFF by six percent for FY 09, and further reductions are possible.  The QUAC continues to explore ways to increase appropriations. 

 

           Evaluate the implementation and assess the functionality of the Youth Attorney (YA) Model statewide.  As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, the CIP, Corinne Wolfe Children’s Law Center, Advocacy Inc., and Pegasus Legal Services for Children developed an evaluation survey, and hosted a symposium to discuss issues related to practice.  Subject matter meetings were convened for child welfare stakeholders at the end of 2008 to further evaluate the YA model and address issues that surfaced during the symposium, including “sibling conflicts.”  As a result of these meetings, a court rule addressing sibling conflict was drafted and submitted to the New Mexico Supreme Court for publication and public comment in March 2009.  The Court approved the rule, and it became effective in May 2010.

Legal Representation of Parties

Legal Representation of Parties: Appointing and Regulating Attorneys

Evaluation

Evaluation: Pilot Projects

 

Data Collection and Analysis Grant

 

Data-related initiatives started under the CIP Basic Grant have been transferred to the Data Collection and Analysis Grant.  The goals and activities detailed in the Grant, and the progress achieved, are outlined as follows:

 

  • Produce reliable and valid outcome measures of timely judicial proceedings.  The Data Committee identified outcome measures that New Mexico will generate from the AOC’s case management system.  These measures include the following: (1) time to custody hearing; (2) time to adjudication commenced; (3) time to adjudication completed; (4) time to initial judicial review; (5) time to permanency hearing; and (6) time to termination of parental rights (petition to TPR order). 

 

As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, the Data Committee and Codes Committee collaborated with the contractor and the Judicial Information Division (JID) of the AOC to accomplish the following: (1) identify and produce the data elements necessary to produce accurate outcome measures; (2) design training and resource material for court staff on coding data elements; (3) create data element editing and auditing process; (4) field test the training, editing, and auditing process; (5) deliver training and implement editing and auditing process in individual Judicial Districts; (6) monitor Judicial District compliance with the editing and auditing process; and (7) produce outcome measures.  In 2010, the CIP compiled a five-year trend analysis, which revealed the following findings:

 

o       Custody Hearing.  Per the Children’s Code, the custody hearing is required within 10 days of filing the petition. To accommodate weekends and holidays, timing is measured within 14 days.  Statewide: There has been a consistent upward trend over the five-year period showing hearings held within the 14-day framework. In FY06, the performance rate was 85 percent, climbing incrementally to almost 95 percent in FY09 and FY10.  These last two fiscal years may indicate that performance has leveled off at about 95 percent.  Judicial Districts: Most Judicial Districts demonstrate an erratic pattern over the five years with no clear trend. Some of these patterns may be due to percentages calculated on small numbers.  

o       Adjudication Commenced.  Per the Children’s Code, the commencement of the adjudication is required within 60 days of service of the petition or the period of any extension. Service is not a data element in the AOC system, so the measure is based on petition filed.  Statewide: There has been a generally consistent upward trend over the five-year period in terms of the percentage of adjudications commenced within 60 days of the petition being filed. While the trend is upward, beginning at 56 percent in FY06, it has only reached 70 percent in FY10 for the State as a whole.  Judicial Districts: Judicial Districts vary in performance. 

o       Adjudication Completed.  There is no deadline in the Children’s Code regarding timelines to complete the adjudication.  However, since continuances are discouraged and the expectation is that adjudications are completed when they are commenced, 60 days from petition filed is used to report timeliness.  Statewide: Results are disappointing for Adjudications Completed. There was generally increasing trend (though still low) from 37 percent in FY06 to 54 percent in FY09.  However, timeliness dropped several percentage points in FY10 to 50 percent.  Judicial Districts: Only four Judicial Districts have consistently performed above the state level in the last two fiscal years.  Six Judicial Districts have rates of 36 percent or lower in FY10.

o       Adjudication Continued.  Adjudications are considered NOT continued if they are commenced and completed the same day.  Statewide: Results are also disappointing for Adjudications Completed. There had been a generally increasing trend from 62 percent in FY06 to 75 percent in FY09.  However, in FY10, the rate dropped down to 70 percent. It is likely that the drop in continuations is related to the drop in completions.  Judicial Districts: Only three Judicial Districts consistently performed better than the state levels in the last two fiscal years.

o       Initial Judicial Review (IJR).  Per the Children’s Code, the IJR is required within 60 days of disposition.  Since disposition is not a data element in the system, and since adjudication and disposition happen at the same time in most cases, the measure is based on 60 days from adjudication.  Statewide: The timing of IJRs has continued to improve over the last four years from 41 percent in FY07 to 60 percent in FY10, but it is still only at 60 percent for the state as a whole.  Judicial District: Four Judicial Districts outperformed the state as a whole in both the last two fiscal years.  Three additional Judicial Districts outperformed the state in FY10 but not FY09.  Six Judicial Districts were below the state in FY10, with four of them also below in FY09.

o       Permanency Hearing.  The Children’s Code requires the Permanency Hearing to be held six months from the IJR or within 12 months of the date the child "entered foster care," whichever is earlier.  Since this “either/or” calculation is beyond the capability of the data system, the measure is based on 12 months from petition filed.  Statewide: The timing of Permanency Hearings had improved from FY07 (76 percent) to FY09 (88 percent) but dropped in FY10 to 82 percent.  Judicial District: Five Judicial Districts achieved 100 percent in FY10; two others exceeded the state in both of the last two years.  One Judicial District exceeded the state in FY10 but not FY09, with the remaining below the state level in one or both years.

North Carolina


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North Carolina

 

http://www.nccourts.org/Citizens/CPrograms/Improvement/

 

Best Practice Courts

 

The North Carolina Court Improvement Project (CIP) uses the CIP Basic Grant to fund eight Best Practice Courts, which are based on the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) Model Courts.  Site visits were conducted and ongoing technical assistance was provided to these courts to support local reform efforts.  Specific activities carried out by these courts include (1)

  1. using a multidisciplinary steering committee led by the Chief District Court Judge to be responsible for providing guidance on overall direction of improvement activities and presenting multidisciplinary trainings for key stakeholders
  2. creating productive calendars to limit court continuances
  3.  assigning one judge to hear a case for the life of the case
  4. holding pre-trial/pre-review conferences to “front-load” services for children and families to support the early engagement of parents and families in the permanency planning process
  5. using Juvenile Court Rules to establish uniform procedures for Juvenile Court
  6. using JWise to track compliance with state statutory timeframes
  7. creating and distributing court orders at the end of each court hearing
  8. performing in-court scheduling and hearing notification
  9. conducting education, health, termination of parental rights (TPR), and/or adoption benchmark review hearings.

 

 

Juvenile A/N/D & TPR Manual

 

The CIP entered into a contract between the UNC – School of Government (SOG) to produce and distribute the Abuse, Neglect, Dependency, and Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings in North Carolina.  The publication was completed in December 2010.  The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) will distribute copies free to some groups, and the SOG will offer copies for sale to others.  The manual will also be available free online.  The primary purpose of the manual is to provide easily accessible information about North Carolina law and procedures applicable to juvenile proceedings.  It is designed to be useful as both a reference manual and a training tool, with an intended primary audience of district court judges, parents’ attorneys, guardian ad litem attorney advocates, and social services attorneys.

 

 

Collaboration Efforts

 

CIP participated in regular meetings with North Carolina Division of Social Services’ staff.  Collaborative meeting agendas in 2010 focused on celebrating the successful implementation and completion of the state’s PIP, information sharing and collective problem solving.  The work of the Court Improvement Program in 2011 will build upon the work carried out in 2010, supporting the NC Division of Social Services as it prepares for the 2011 federal IV-E and 2012 CFSR reviews.

 

North Carolina Court Improvement Program staff had several opportunities to collaborate with and support efforts with staff from other human service and advocate agencies/organizations throughout the year.  Those activities included: (1) Hosted meetings of the Standing Committee on Indian Child Welfare; (2) Collaboration on Children, Youth and Families and three of its work groups (Youth in Transition, Training, and Cultural Competency); Participated in Learning Network on “Youth Transitioning Out-of-Foster Care”; and, hosted monthly meetings on the Collaborative on Youth in Transition and managed and email Listserv for the group.

Hearing Quality and Depth

Hearing Quality and Depth: Pilot Projects and Model Courts

Hearing Quality and Depth: Guidelines, Manuals, and Benchbooks

Community Collaboration

 

 

Data Collection and Analysis Grant

 

North Carolina is in the process of enhancing a statewide Juvenile court case management information system, JWise, to improve child outcomes in abuse, neglect and dependency court cases.  The CIP data grant has been used to develop outcome based management reports and case management tools related to safety, permanency, timeliness and due process.

 

JWise has five different user groups: Juvenile Court clerks, Family Court staff, GAL staff, CIP staff, and Family Drug Treatment Court staff.  North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) staff members serve on the JWise Advisory Committee and act as liaisons to JWise users.  The Advisory Committee’s role is to balance the needs of all JWise users and to allocate NCAOC Technology Services Division (TSD) resources to make changes to JWise.  The Data Grant is being used to achieve the following:

 

1.     JWISE Used to Support Case Management.  In preparation of the federal IV-E foster care review in the July 2011, NC-DSS was concerned that juvenile a/n/d/ orders were being entered on time.  Beginning in December 2010, the NCAOC began providing the NCDD with “Entry of Order Due” reports for all 100 counties in North Carolina.  NC-DSS staff are working with county child welfare agency directors, their staff and other collaborative partners in counties where these reports show additional help is needed.

 

2.     JWISE Programming.  IN FFY 2011 the JWISE application was enhanced to expand the number/types of users (Drug Treatment Courts and Guardians ad Litem) of the application and to produce outcomes based management reports and case management tools designed to improved information related to safety, permanency, timeliness and due process.  Three FTE programmers continue to be used to create case management tools and improve functionality designed to improve access to information related to safety, permanency, timeliness and due process of juvenile A/N/D court cases.  An advisory committee, comprised of leadership within the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts from the various divisions that provide technical assistance and support to JWISE users (business and technical analysts: FC; CIP and FDTC staff, Clerks and GAL’s) plans and makes recommendations for reports, tools and systems to assist users of the application and to discuss how the data can be provided to judges, clerks and other court officials in a standardized, agreeable and user friendly fashion. 

Technology

Technology: Data Collection

Technology:  Computerized scheduling and orders

Court Staffing:  Case managers, coordinators, mediators, and other court staff
Hearing Quality and Depth:  Data management and technology

 

Training Grant

 

The Training Grant is used to deliver training programs to Best Practice Courts and other key stakeholders.  The Training Specialist and the Curriculum Developer work with the CIP Coordinator to develop the goals of the Training Grant Strategic Plan.  The following programs were supported by the Training Grant.

 

·       National-Level Training.  There were 20 Parent attorneys were sponsored to attend the 2nd National Parent Attorney Conference “Tools for Achieving Success” presented July 2011.  Six Guardian ad Litem attorney advocates were sponsored to attend the 14th ABA National Conference on Children and the Law July 2011.

 

·       State-Level Trainings.  There have been various state level trainings. 

o   The CIP Best Practices All Districts Meeting was developed around the needs of the CIP Directors and their lead judges using the results from a needs assessment.  Meeting topics included Child Safety: What judges and Attorneys Need to Know, Older Youth in Foster Care, and Proposed Revisions to the NC Juvenile Code in 2011. 

o   In March 2011, Sponsored attendance of the CIP Training Court Management Specialist and Family Court Management Specialist to attend the “Much to Learn, You Still Have...Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Adolescents in the Child Welfare, the Juvenile Justice and School Systems” presented by the Juvenile Justice and Children’s Section of the NC Bar Association.  

o   Annual Guardian ad Litem Attorney Training held in September 2011.

o   In September 2011, sponsored the Tribes, Child Welfare and Court Partners Gathering.  The Gathering was the result of a T/TA request to (a) assist tribes, urban Indian organizations, the state child welfare agency, county child welfare agencies and court communities in the enhancement of child welfare services to achieve safety, permanence and well-being for American Indian/Alaska Native children and (b) develop and support collaborative efforts and linkages among state and local child welfare and legal communities, tribes and American Indian organizations.  Approximately 120 persons, including presenters, attended and participated in the Gathering. 

 

·       Regional Training.  Regional presentations were organized and presented with the help of CIP collaborative partners (NC GAL program, Indigent Defense Services and NC Division of Social Services) to introduce the new reference manual/resource “Abuse, Neglect, Dependency, and Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings in North Carolina,” a comprehensive guide to the law and procedures applicable to AND/TPR proceedings.  The sessions were used to provide a platform for judicial officers and their court partners to discuss their juvenile a/n/d court’s performance.  CIP hosted 30 workshops in 19 locations as a strategy of introducing the manual to potential users. Including instructors, 850 persons registered to attend, representing 98 NC counties, attended these sessions.  By September 2011 more than 1200 manuals had been distributed to judges, court officers, child welfare attorneys, GAL advocate attorneys, parent attorneys and child welfare professionals. 

 

·       District Level Training.  The CIP Directors in the seven “Best Practice” Court Communities organized the delivery of at least one multi-disciplinary training event for their communities on topics as identified by their respective steering committees.  Particular emphasis continues to be placed on collaborative efforts for local court improvements (e.g., processing of cases including child protective proceedings, adoptions, and permanency issues as they impact different members of the teams) and services for children and their families. 

 

·       JWise User Training.  Through the efforts of CIP Training Staff and other judicial personnel, a JWise Training curriculum for Clerks, Family Court and CIP staff, GALs and Family Drug Treatment Court staff has been developed and is regularly reviewed and revised.  CIP training funds are used to develop and present training for new and experienced JWise users on the basic JWise functions and enhancements to the application as enhancements are released.  JWISE Level 1 is designed to introduce new or back-up juvenile clerks to JWISE. It offers instructions on how to add, adjudicate and dispose Juvenile petitions and motions.  JWISE Level 2 is designed to train JWise users about customizing reports, filtering, mail merge, and ASFA reports.  JWISE for GALs is designed to introduce Guardians ad Litem (GALs) to JWISE.  It offers instructions on how to add and update volunteer information at the district and case levels and maintain volunteer staff availability, run reports to help them manage their casework loads.  Now that JWise is being used by juvenile courts in all 100 North Carolina counties, a webinar orientation was developed to the abuse, neglect, dependency (AND) and termination of parental rights (TPR) components of JWise and is now available to the public.  It was designed to introduce viewers to who uses JWise, what it can do for each group, where different types of information are stored, when data is entered, When reports are generated, and how data and reports can be used to inform and improve practice.

 

Training and Education

Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training

Training and Education: Other Training




North Dakota


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North Dakota

 

North Dakota Guardian ad Litem Project (NDGALP)

 

As discussed in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, North Dakota has developed and expanded its North Dakota Guardian ad Litem Project (NDGALP) to all seven judicial districts in the state.  It is administered through the on-going contract with Youthworks, a nonprofit organization. The North Dakota GAL program provides for lay guardian ad litem services in child deprivation cases.

 

The GAL Subcommittee’s primary goal over the past year was the completion of a survey of stakeholders and parties regarding the effectiveness of the lay GAL program. The objective of this general program evaluation was to gather information from those in the juvenile court system working the deprived children cases on program effectiveness and to identify areas of training that need further attention. The long-term goal of the evaluation is to provide the court with well-trained guardians that effectively advocate for the best interest of children in juvenile court.

Legal Representation of Parties

Legal Representation of Parties: Appointing and Regulating Attorney

 

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

 

The ICWA Subcommittee focused on compliance audits that were completed at the end of FY 2010. A 14-question assessment instrument was developed.  During the summer of 2010 each Juvenile Court Office in the state began to pull randomly selected files for review. The data was collected was reviewed by the subcommittee and a full report was submitted to the Court Improvement in November 2011. The Committee agreed that further tweaking of the questionnaire was needed before a true baseline for ICWA compliance could be established. The subcommittee is currently revising the survey instrument and plans to begin a new audit in 2012.

 

A bench card on ICWA was in development, but the subcommittee has agreed to use and distribute an ICWA “hard card” that was developed by the American Bar Association. This document will be purchased and distributed to juvenile court personnel and judges.

 

To help better identify ICWA cases in Odyssey, the court’s management system, an ICWA flag was developed. Also, in the comment field in Odyssey, the tribe or tribes that the child may belong to or may be eligible for enrollment can be added. A report can be run from the ICWA flag to give an accounting of the number of ICWA cases filed, making it easier to then audit those cases for compliance.

 

In 2011, the tribes within North Dakota announced that each tribe had identified qualified expert witnesses to testify in state courts on ICWA cases.  The rosters of QEWs are maintained by the tribes

Hearing Quality and Depth

Hearing Quality and Depth: Guidelines, Manuals, and Benchbooks

Hearing Quality and Depth:  Data management and technology

Technology:  Data collection

Evaluation

Evaluation: General

 

Collaboration with DHS

 

The State Court Administrator's Office has continued its active role in the annual Children and Family Services Reviews conducted by the Department of Human Services.  The Assistant State Court Administrator for Trial Court Operations attends each stakeholder meeting at each review site.  Also, attending the stakeholder's meetings for the CFS reviews are the local court administrators and managers.  This court representation provides feedback, as well as insight and education, to the stakeholders as to the role of the court and the legal proceedings. Court personnel are working with DHS to implement the department’s Program Improvement Plan. The court system is also looking into ways to exchange data with DHS.

Community Collaboration

 

Data Collection and Analysis Grant

 

As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, the primary focus of the Data Collection and Analysis Subcommittee has been to collect data based on selected performance measures and begin to implement a quality assurance program.  The State Court Administrator’s Office selected a consultant to assist with data evaluation. 

 

In 2010 the State Court Administrator’s Office completed its work with the consultant, which had previously collected data on specified performance measures and issued a base line report. The report was delivered in 2010 and was presented to the Court Improvement Committee and to the Juvenile Court Directors and supervisors. This report established some baseline measures and recommended some business practices that would improve data quality.

 

The research analyst hired with CIP funds has continued the work recommended by the consultant.  Meetings have been held with the Department of Human Services regarding initial sharing of data and a notification process for changes in foster care placements has been implemented. Five performance measures have been identified that will be used to monitor quality. Work has been done to run the reports on these measures in the court’s new case management system.

 

Those measures are as follows:

·         Percentage of children who have a permanency or review hearing within 0-3, 4-9, 10-12 months from adjudication disposition.

·         Number of judicial officers presiding over a case.

 

·         Percentage of cases where a permanency hearing occurs within 365 days of shelter care hearing.

 

·         Percentage of children for whom an adjudication result was entered within 30 days of the deprivation petition file date.

 

·         The number and duration of continuances

Technology
Technology: Data Collection

 

Training Grant

 

The North Dakota CIP uses a multi-layered approach to address identified child welfare and judicial system training needs.  The CIP through its Training Grant, is focused on the following needs: (1) increasing awareness and knowledge of ICWA; (2) increasing judges’ understanding of the child welfare system; (3) increasing attorneys’ knowledge of laws and practices related to deprivation cases; and 4) providing ongoing lay GAL training.

 

Based on these specific needs, the North Dakota CIP participated in the following programs:

·         Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Conference.  The North Dakota Judicial System continues to sponsor the annual ICWA Conference coordinated by the Native American Training Institute.  Grant funds were also allocated for  18 judges and Juvenile Court staff to attend the conference and to provide scholarships for GALs to attend.  Topics covered at the 2011 conference included (1) ICWA 101; (2) historical trauma and Native American Parenting; (3) qualified expert witnesses; (4) child welfare implementation project; and, (5) bullying.  A total of 16 court employees, judges and staff, attended the conference and five lay GALS attended on a CIP scholarship.

·         LAY GAL’s.  A one-day training was held in July 2011 for the lay guardians ad litem in conjunction with the 2011 Children’s Justice Symposium sponsored by the North Dakota Supreme Court and the Department of Human Services to address their specific continuing education needs. This was the fifth year for this event.

·         Judicial and Attorney Training.  Grant funds were used to support judicial training.  Information regarding out-of-state training for trial judges and judicial referees on child welfare issues was distributed and judges and judicial referees were encouraged to attend. Judges, court staff and attorneys attend the following conferences or courses: 74th Annual Conference of the Juvenile and Family Court Judges;14th Bi-Annual American Bar Association National Conference on Children and the Law; the Child Welfare League of America Annual Conference; the NACC 33rd National Child Welfare Juvenile and Family Law Conference; The National Judicial College course on Working with Difficult Families; and, the Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center training on the impact of child sexual abuse on victims. There were six parents attorneys, five state’s attorneys, five judges and eight juvenile court officers that attended specialized training on child welfare issues.

·         Multi-Disciplinary Workshops.  Court Improvement funds were used to support faculty attendance at three multi-disciplinary events in 2011.  The first was the 2011 North Dakota Conference on Juvenile Justice, with over 400 court, corrections, law enforcement, social services, and education professional in attendance. The second event was the 2011 Children and Family Services Conferences, attended by approximately 300 child welfare partners.  A former foster care youth and author of “A Child Called It”, who presented his Real Heroes program at the Bismarck Community Crisis Team training for human service professionals, presented the third event.

·         Web-based Education.  A provider for a distance-learning program was selected in the Spring of 2011. The software has been used for Court Improvement Committee and Subcommittee meetings and to review the ABA Judicial Excellence in Child Abuse Standards. A series of webinars is currently being developed in collaboration with the Children and Family Services department and will be launched in 2012.

 Training and Education

Training and Education:  Judicial training

Training and Education:  Other training

Training and Education: Attorney/GAL Programs

Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training




Oklahoma


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Oklahoma

Oklahoma Child Permanency Mediation Pilot Project

As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, the Oklahoma Supreme Court implemented a Child Permanency Mediation (CPM) Pilot Project for cases of deprivation, abuse, or neglect in 2001.  CPM became a statewide effort in 2003.  In January 2007, the CPM Pilot Project implemented a 50-case pilot with one judge in Oklahoma County who has juvenile docket responsibilities. 

There are two part-time employees dedicated to the permanency mediation program in Oklahoma County.  They often travel to surrounding counties to assist with mediation.  Of the number of permanency cases being mediated there is a 70% percent settlement rate.

CPM has increased exponentially in Cleveland County which is located just outside of Oklahoma County and talks have begun to extend it to Canadian County once volunteers are identified and trained.

 Alternative Dispute Resolution

 

Data Collection and Analysis Grant

Model Court Technology Juvenile Court

Support continues to be offered to the judges to build their confidence with technology.  Computer equipment upgrades are ongoing and training to support the use of the uniform orders is being offered on an as needed basis.  Plans are underway to develop a Model Technology Juvenile Court.  The equipment has been ordered and installation is ongoing in a court room in Tulsa County.  Installs will be made of video conferencing equipment, monitors throughout the court room, document camera, touch panel monitors for the judge and witness box, smart board and digital audio system.  After several months of data collection, CIP will assess what made the process more efficient and what will be useful in other court rooms throughout the state.  Video conferencing equipment is also being placed in four remote counties in the panhandle of Oklahoma and four other selected locations to help ease the cost of transporting across the state for mental health and placement hearings.


Juvenile Case Management System

Work continued throughout the year on the new unified case management system.  The UCMS program is currently in the Design Phase.  The final step needed to complete the Design Phase includes the delivery and user approval of the District Court System Design written by the vendor AMCAD.  The CIP Coordinator has been working closely with the business analysts on this project to ensure the juvenile courts system needs are not be ignored and are an integral part of the development of the UCMS.

The staff in the MIS department received NIEM training and some received certification in JXDM.  This is the prerequisite to successfully have data exchange between the courts and child welfare as well as other entities.  Discussions continue with the Agency to incorporate exchange with Child Welfare at certain data points when the system enters that phase

 

Juvenile Case Management and Statistical Reporting

The interim project known as Juvenile Case Management and Statistical Reporting has been ongoing this year.  It has allowed standardization of juvenile case coding, ability to track and report juvenile case statistical data and correctly report the juvenile case status.  The CIP has used the reports developed from this interim project to discuss successes and deficiencies within the Juvenile Court system with the members of the JJOAC. 

Technology

Technology: Equipment

Technology: Data Collection

Technology: Information Sharing

Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders: Forms and Orders

 

Training Programs

The CIP sponsored the following training programs:

  • Regional Multidisciplinary Workshops.  In summer 2010, the CIP held regional multidisciplinary workshops.  With the theme of “Children are Why We are Here,” the workshops focused on the importance of each person understanding their role.  Workshops included ethics training for parents’ attorneys, best practices for children’s attorneys, trauma-informed care, the agency practice model, and programs for incarcerated parents.  More than 600 judges, child welfare workers, CASA volunteers, and others attended the workshops. 
  •  New Judges’ Orientation.  The CIP sponsored two days of New Judges Orientation in summer of 2011.  The first two days were dedicated to the Juvenile Docket with the first day being solely dedicated to the Juvenile Deprived docket.  There were 12 new juvenile court judges in attendance.
  •  Annual Oklahoma Judicial Conference.  The CIP sponsored the first day of the Annual Oklahoma Judicial Conference in November 2011.  The first day was reserved for judges with Juvenile Court responsibilities.  Presenters shared information relating to juvenile court issues and the legislative updates to the Children’s Code as well as further trauma training
  •  Court Clerk Training.  The CIP assisted with the training of court clerks and other end users on the Juvenile Case Management System.  Training consisted of teaching proper coding.
  •  Train the Trainers.  In May 2010, two trainers from the ABA Center on Children and the Law's National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System trained 13 parents’ attorneys.  These attorneys were used as staff for the summer regional workshops to train on “Effective Parent Representation.”  The CIP Director and Coordinator also received training on how to train adult learners, which was shared with the Juvenile Justice Oversight Advisory Committee, the child welfare agency, and the Office of Personnel Management.
  •  Children’s Court Summit.  During the summer of 2011,  the Court Improvement Program sponsored the Oklahoma Children’s Court Summit.  The theme of the conference was Champions for Children: Tackling Trauma Together.  Speakers were brought in to discuss the various aspects of trauma including Dr. Vincent Felitti, author of the ACE study and Judge Michael Howard of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.  There were over 650 attendees including judges, attorneys, DHS/Child Welfare workers and administrators, tribal judges and ICW workers, CASA, and other community volunteers. 

Training and Education

Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training

 

Benchbook/Educational Materials

The juvenile bench book has been constructed and is currently online on a secure network (OSCN connect) for the use by judges, especially new ones, with juvenile court responsibilities. This bench book was a collaborative effort between CIP, the JJOAC, and the Tulsa University Law School.  Plans are to have them published on CDs to distribute to judges and attorneys of use out of network

 

Trauma Informed System

Oklahoma’s Child Welfare System has been selected by Chadwick Center as one of three sites on becoming a trauma informed system.  CIP has worked closely with the agency on this effort.  The Director and Coordinator serve on the Statewide Steering Committee to help with the efforts to inform other professionals about the effects of Trauma.

Hearing Quality and Depth

Hearing Quality and Depth: Guidelines, Manuals, and Benchbooks

Treatment of Parties

Treatment of Parties: Information to Parties




Oregon


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Oregon

 

CIP Basic Grant

With funds from the Court Improvement Project (CIP) Basic Grant, the Oregon Juvenile Court Improvement Project (JCIP) focused on the following strategies and activities:

  • Develop court and stakeholder ability to use assessment information from the DHS 333 Form to reduce re-abuse. The new DHS OR-Kids system (electronic case management system) went on-line August 2011.  There were a few concerns from judges and CRB volunteer board members regarding the new case plans and court reports.  DHS will make periodic updates to ensure the information in OR-Kids remains in compliance with legislative changes. JCIP has asked juvenile court judges to submit suggested modifications, which JCIP will then forward to DHS for consideration.
  •  Provide Data Warehouse reports to all courts showing specific outcomes for each county and offer technical assistance to those counties who are underperforming.  As reported in the Court Improvement Progress Report 2008, the JCIP continues to provide quarterly reports on performance measures.  The JCIP provides telephone and in-person technical assistance and support as requested, and works directly with courts that are part of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) and Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) projects to provide data necessary to identify barriers and improve outcomes. 
  •  Identify three Child Welfare Offices that have the greatest number of children in APPLA and work with DHS and courts in those counties to develop and implement response and track progress.  CIP continues to provide support to Jackson, Multnomah and coos counties as well as other counties as they begin to address APPLA cases. JCIP staff served on the DHS APPLA Rule Advisory Committee that revised administrative rules governing APPLA cases.  These three counties also participate in the Safe and Equitable Reduction of Children in Foster Care (SEFCR)Project. The Judicial Department, through our JCIP program, is actively involved in the SEFCR Project.  In FFY 2011, the three newest SEFCR counties will conduct “Permanency Roundtables” and a qualitative assessment will be performed on the original roundtables.
  •  Participate in workgroups and committees that engage in goals that support permanency and stability for children in care.  JCIP coordinated and/or participated in a variety of state level committees and work groups, including the following: (1) Interbranch juvenile Dependency Workgroup; (2) Oregon eCourt Law and Policy Committees; (3) Multnomah County’s Crossover Youth Practice Model Guiding Coalition: (4) Judicial Engagement and Leadership Insititue (JELI) Steering Committee; (5) State Court Compliance With ICWA workgroup; and (6) “Every Day Counts” planning committee, CRB’s annual conference.
  •  Participate in Oregon’s efforts to safely reduce the number of children in foster care.  In January 2009, Oregon kicked off the Casey Project; eight pilot counties were identified.   JCIP staff continues to be involved in local efforts.  The JCIP provided sessions on the Casey Initiative at the 2010 and 2011 “Through the Eyes of the Child “Conference “Model Court Day:  Summits on Child Abuse & Neglect.”  In FFY 2010, three new counties were added to the SEFCR initiative (Josephine, Lane, Umatilla). JCIP staff planned, provided support for the State Convener, and presented at the “New Team Orientation.”  JCIP staff participates on the SEFCR Leadership and Core Teams. JCIP staff and judges attended training on permanency roundtables, a professional case consultation process, with the ultimate outcome of legal permanency for some of our long-term foster children. The permanency roundtables looked intensively at cases where there were barriers to permanency for children.
  •  Increase state court compliance with ICWA.  Oregon has a disproportionate number of ICWA children involved in its child welfare system.  Oregon is participating in a pilot program through NCJFCJ with support form the Casey Foundation.  JCIP has been developing relationships with Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes. Tribal judges were included on JCIP mailing lists, invited to and participated in the 2011 “Model Court Day: Summit on Child Abuse and Neglect,” and were awarded JCIP supported NCJFCJ memberships.  Model Courts are being encouraged to identify tribal members within their communities, engage tribes in their local processes, and collaborate with tribes to improve ICWA compliance.  CIP staff included tribal respondents in the 2011 Reassessment survey. Results from the reassessment relating to ICWA cases were presented to the State Court Compliance with ICWA workgroup and at the 2011 ICWA Conference.  CIP staff also coordinated a session for the National Indian Child Welfare Act Conference in April 2011.
  •  Decrease disproportionate representation of children of color and Native American children in the dependency system.  Oregon is working on this goal with NCJFCJ through the Courts Catalyzing Change Initiative.  Multnomah County Circuit Court was a test site for the use of a benchcard for judges to use to help safely keep children of color out of the child welfare system.  In FFY 2010, Jackson and Washington Counties were identified as additional sites, and Klamath and Marion Counties agreed to serve as comparison counties.  JCIP will continue to monitor data regarding the number of children of color in the dependency system and to implement this strategy based on data-identified needs.
  •  Increase the number of children in foster care who are placed with relatives.  In collaboration with the Children's Justice Act Task Force, the JCIP developed benchcards for judges to use as a guide to working with relatives in Juvenile Court.  The guide addresses ongoing connection and support, as well as placement with relatives.  At the August 2011 “Model Court Day: Summit on Child Abuse and Neglect” a panel presentation identified strategies being utilized in SEFCR counties, DHS branches and juvenile dependency courts.   In 2011, CJA funded a follow-up project to develop a sustainable training on working with relatives that could be used independently in local communities. Training was developed and tested in Lincoln County with JCIP support. The training curriculum and DVD is being finalized and JCIP staff is providing feedback.
  • Establish protocols to ensure timely notification of proceedings to all parties, maximum attendance at hearings, minimum postponements, and mutual exchanges of discovery among parties.  The JCIP and DHS/CAF staff participated in a multidisciplinary process to develop these protocols.  In 2011, JCIP supported the translation of the “Notice to Parents” document and made it available in Spanish.
  • Enhance the court's ability to conduct permanency hearings for older teens.  Legislation enacted in 2007 emphasized the educational progress of older teens involved in the child welfare system.  It requires the court to make specific findings concerning an older foster child's education at both review hearings and permanency hearings.  At the 2011 “Model Court Day: Summits on Child Abuse & Neglect,” sessions were held to address the issues of older teens and assisting them in transitioning to adulthood. The revised Model Forms have also included language for courts to consider in permanency hearings involving teens.
  • Develop statewide recommendations for courts to consider age and developmentally appropriate input from children when reviewing their permanency plans.  As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, the JCIP developed protocols for courts to consider age appropriate input from children when reviewing permanency plans and assisted local courts in adapting the protocols to reflect local considerations.  The protocols are posted on the JCIP website.  In 2011, JCIP staff assisted a University of Oregon Law professor with a student project.  JCIP shred various protocols and best practices. JCIP staff also submitted an article to the CASA Judge’s Page on courts consulting with children that was published in the February 2011 issues. 
  • Develop OJD and Judicial Leadership for Model Court Teams.  State Model Court judges continue to be asked to present on their teams' activities at the Model Court Day: Summit on Child Abuse and Neglect Conference.  Model Court judges also serve as consultants to other judges and stakeholders starting or reenergizing a program.  These leaders are engaged in ongoing efforts to develop technical support, provide input into protocol development, integrate national model court practices, identify and address initiative shortcomings and objectives, and guide local and statewide efforts.  JCIP continues to award mini-grants to assist judges, Model Court Teams, and other stakeholders.
  • Create annual JCIP Model Court Conferences to report goals and local accomplishments.  The JCIP has coordinated an annual meeting of Model Court Teams since 2007.  The Model Court Day provides Model Court leaders with an opportunity to share best practices, celebrate accomplishments, evaluate emerging service delivery models, build statewide strategies to implement new legislation, and ensure local perspectives are considered in JCIP efforts.  JCIP staff did site visits with several teams to help them either start or reinvigorate their Model Court efforts.  JCIP continues to provide support and technical assistance to these teams.      
  • Develop JCIP Model Courts as a means of providing information on Data Analysis and Training Grants.  JCIP developed and implemented an electronic newsletter that is distributed quarterly to Model Court Teams. 
  • Identify Barriers to Timely Filing of Termination of Parental Rights Petitions.  JCIP and DHS identified three Oregon counties as pilot sites to develop strategies to improve the timely resolution of TPR cases.  JCIP and DHS/CAF met with the judicial officers in all three, provided data from DHS and JCIP to assist in their assessments of problems and progress, and helped them draft plans for addressing the TPR timeliness issues in their counties. Information and lessons learned were presented at the 2011 “Through the Eyes of a Child, XIV” conference.

Hearing Quality and Depth

Hearing Quality and Depth: Pilot Projects and Model Courts

Training and Education

Training and Education: Multidisciplinary Training

 

Data Collection and Analysis Grant

Oregon is using the Data Collection and Analysis Grant to support the following JCIP program activities:

  • Increased ability to gather and manage information for the monitoring and evaluation of JCIP program activities.  The JCIP hired a Data Analyst to assist with managing data activities.  The JCIP continues to conduct evaluations and surveys to assess the effectiveness of trainings and the program.  JCIP staff created the process evaluation survey and conference evaluations, and provided the statistical analysis.
  • Use of multi-agency data collection, reporting, and analysis.  JCIP and the Citizen Review Board (CRB) staff have worked closely with DHS IT staff to ensure that information on children in foster care that is transferred to OJD from the OR-Kids system is complete, accurate, and usable by the JOIN system.  JCIP staff actively participated in the basic and advanced configuration trainings for the Odyssey System. The OJD has selected Odyssey as the new case, financial, and document management components for Oregon eCourt. JCIP staff and trial court staff provided subject matter expertise and information on juvenile dependency data requirements for the configuration of Odyssey.  JCIP staff actively participated on the Oregon Judicial Department’s Oregon eCourt workgroups related to confidentiality, electronic document management and access, best practices for maintaining current legal and social paper files in a consistent manner so that when Odyssey and eCourt are implemented, courts will be poised for the transition from paper files to electronic files.
  • Data quality assurance.  Oregon is working on data quality assurance in the following ways: 
  • Provide training and technical assistance to trial court staff and judges on data entry related to new performance measures, reading and interpreting data, and determining data issues versus process issues.  JCIP staff developed an e-learning Juvenile Dependency Data Entry Training Program, to notify court staff on data entry protocols, tracking ICWA cases, and TPR appeals. This training is especially important because due to budget cuts, the OJD is no longer providing training to new court staff.  JCIP staff continues to provide court staff and judges with detailed performance measure reports, quarterly statistics, assistance in reading the reports, and problem solving to determine the cause of suspect data.
  • Electronic Model Court forms.  JCIP has developed three versions of the model forms; print and complete forms, fillable Word forms, and interactive forms. The new interactive forms were demonstrated at the Through the Eyes of a Child Conference. Thirteen judges showed up on a Sunday morning for a special pre-conference workshop on the interactive forms. Many more judges tested the interactive forms in a room set up for that purpose during the conference.  JCIP staff has, and will continue to update the model court forms as appellate decisions and new legislation require. An ongoing challenge is ensuring version control of the model court forms. The reassessment team found many instances of courts using outdated model court forms that did not include all of the current required findings.
  •  Improve the ability of Juvenile OJIN and DHS data systems to identify Native American children covered by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).  The Juvenile Dependency Data Entry Training Program includes a section on accurate data entry of the ICWA code in Juvenile OJIN.

Technology

Technology: Data Collection

Technology: Information Sharing

Technology: Computerized Scheduling and Orders

Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders

Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders: Forms and Orders

Training and Education

Training and Education: Other Training

 

Training and Education Projects

With CIP Training Grant funds, the Oregon JCIP is supporting the following goals:

  • Provide access to onsite education that includes national, state and local resources.   The JCIP continued to allocate Training Grant funds to create and support training opportunities for juvenile court stakeholders, including providing scholarships for attendance at various training events.  During FFY2010, over 1500 people representing nearly every stakeholder group in Oregon’s child protection system, participated in various educational opportunities.  Training grant funds were used to:
  •  Support participation in the 74th annual NCJFCJ Judges Conference;
  • Sponsor participation in Oregon’s annual Shoulder to Shoulder Conference;
  • Provide support for the “everyday counts” Citizen Review Board conference;
  • Provide support for the 2011 ICWA Conference, “Embracing Our Traditions: Taking Responsibility for Our Indian Children and Families;”
  • Facilitate, plan, support attendance, and present at the annual juvenile judges “Through the Eyes of a Child, XIV Conference” and “Model Court Day: Summit on Child Abuse & Neglect”
  • Facilitate, plan, and attend the Safe and Equitable Foster Care Reduction’s (SEFCR) “Moving Beyond Foster Care Summit” and “Early Learning Symposium”
  • Provide support for, develop curriculum, and make presentations on “Oregon’s New Relative Rules” and the “Indian Child Welfare Act” at the Northeastern Oregon CRB Fall Training
  • Provide support for various ICWA conferences
  • Support JCIP staff, a tribal attorney, a judge, and a DHS Branch Manager to present information on “Oregon’s Active Efforts Principles and Expectations” at the 29th Annual "Protecting Our Children" National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in Anchorage, Alaska
  • Provide support for and attend the Jackson County and Washington County “Courts Catalyzing Change” trainings.
  • Provide access to e-learning resources.  The JCIP has continued to develop its website as a forum for distributing training and training materials electronically.  The site contains learning modules and self tests on ICWA, dependency, consolidation, and permanency.  Training materials, the Juvenile Court Dependency Benchbook, and model court forms are linked there.  The site also lists upcoming trainings and posts the JCIP e-newsletter.  In August-September 2011, JCIP and a group of juvenile court judges began the development of a secure on-line resource and discussion forum where judges can ask and answer the legal and procedural questions that confront them.  JCIP staff explored and evaluated eLearning software and assisted with the creation of several on-line modules for use by CRB volunteer board members. The testing went well, and JCIP funds purchased several Articulate licenses for the CRB to expand on-line offerings.

Draw from DHS, JCIP and Community Resources to Develop Education and Training Plans.  JCIP staff has worked with JCIP Model Court Teams to identify training needs and assisted with facilitation of trainings based on statewide initiatives.  JCIP requests minutes from JCIP Model Court Team meetings and local court newsletters and uses this information in program planning and to alert local teams when training opportunities that address identified needs are available. Information from the “2011 Reassessment of Oregon Juvenile Dependency Courts” is also being used to identify training needs.  JCIP offered support to judges who wanted a multidisciplinary regional training, based on local community training requests. Topics have included the Indian Child Welfare Act, DHS’s new Administrative Rules on Relatives, Appellate Update, Youth Aging Out of Foster Care, etc.

Training and Education

Training and Education:  Judicial training

Training and Education:  Multidisciplinary training

Training and Education:  Other Training




Puerto Rico


To Table of Contents

Puerto Rico

 

San Juan Judicial Region Court Improvement Pilot Project

 

As reported in prior Court Improvement Progress Reports, the San Juan Judicial Region Court Improvement Pilot Project (CIP) was established to improve the quality and timeliness of court proceedings in child abuse and neglect cases.  The CIP staff is responsible for overseeing and monitoring the judicial process in compliance with Puerto Rico Act No. 177 and ASFA requirements.

 

The CIP contracted with the Puerto Rico Legal Services Corporation to provide legal services for the San Juan and Mayaguez Judicial regions.  The attorneys provide counseling and legal representation in child abuse and neglect cases to parents who would otherwise not have representation.  As of November 2010, two attorneys represented 94 parents in the San Juan Judicial Region and one attorney represented 67 people in the Mayaguez Judicial Region.  When these attorneys cannot represent the parents, the case managers refer them to private attorneys or community services, such as those provided by the Legal Services Corporation, the Civil Action Corporation, and university legal clinics.  Family Affairs Prosecutors from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice represent children and Department of Family attorneys represent the state. 

 

CIP case managers perform the following tasks: (1) inform parents of their rights and responsibilities; (2) arrange for parents to receive legal representation; (3) promote access to services; (4) foster communication with the Department of Family; (5) refer parents to services; (6) provide information to parents about judicial procedures; and (7) record statistics for monthly reports to the CIP Coordinator.  In addition, a judge may grant the case manager authority to act as a legal defender in the absence of other representation and where the party cannot represent him or herself.  As of November 2010, the case managers oriented 371 individuals, and provided six workshops for parents and school personnel. 

 

The CIP also employs a Court Auxiliary Clerk and a Confidential Office System Administrator.  The clerk manages files, schedules appointments, issues notifications to agencies and other parties, manages the calendar, informs judges of individual hearings, and acts as a liaison between the Juvenile Court Clerk’s Office, the CIP case managers, and the Legal Services Corporation attorneys.  The administrator schedules meetings, facilitates coordination among judicial regions and CIP regional personnel, and performs other administrative tasks.   

 

In 2011, the Judicial Branch will extend the CIP to the Utuado Judicial Region.  This region serves rural municipalities that are affected by poverty and a significant prevalence of intra-family sexual abuse.  The Judicial Branch will also hire a consultant to evaluate the CIP program. 

Legal Representation of Parties

Legal Representation of Parties: Appointing and Regulating Attorneys

Court Staffing

Court Staffing: Case Managers, Coordinators, Mediators, and Other Court Staff

 

Advisory Board Activities

 

In 2010, the Advisory Board focused on facilitation of the New Adoption Law, Act No. 186, see Legislation.  The Board assessed the impact of new legislation on the case management process and the viability of adoption as a permanency plan.  The Board also considered the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) and the identification of alternatives to address social problems confronted by Puerto Rican families.  The Board met on nine occasions during 2010 to address these topics and others of interest.

Community Collaboration

 

Legislation

 

In December 2010, legislation was amended to establish new instances in which reasonable efforts are not required to reunite a minor with his/her father, mother or guardian as well as to include in the definition of sexual abuse the felony of child pornography.  2010 legislation also excluded the privilege of suspended sentence and parole to persons convicted of child pornography felonies.

 

The Puerto Rico Legislature passed two major bills in December 2009.  Act No. 185 amended Act No. 177, the Comprehensive Child Well-Being and Protection Act, by authorizing health and behavioral professionals access to the files of minor victims of sexual abuse.  Professionals hired by the Department of Family to perform evaluations and provide treatment services are granted access to reports and files related to protection cases. 

 

Act No. 186, the Comprehensive Reform of Adoption Proceedings 2009 Act, simplifies and expedites the adoption process.  The bill recognizes interstate and international adoptions, establishes the right of foster and pre-adoptive parents to be heard in court, and limits the time for the Department of Family to conduct reasonable efforts to reunify the family to six months. 

Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders

Legislation, Court Rules, Forms, and Orders: State Legislation

 

Technology

 

The Directorate of Information Systems of the Office of Court Administration designed a computerized case management system for CIP use.  It integrates legal forms and records the dates of each hearing to measure timeliness.  The application has 55 screens containing the following information: (1) 14 catalogues; (2) 23 screens for case management; (3) six screens for hearings; (4) four screens for court orders; (5) one screen to register appeals; (6) three screens for the administration of the catalogues for the regions, courtrooms, and users; and (7) four screens for reports.

 

The first version is complete and is under revision to incorporate additional needs.  The CIP accomplished the following goals during 2010:

 

·        The development of a User Guide and Technical Manual;

·        Meetings to present the application to San Juan court personnel;

·        Training of personnel from the Directorate of Information System so they could train court personnel; and

·        Implementation of the first version in some judicial regions. 

 

Multiple meetings have been held between the Directorate of Information Systems, the CIP, court personnel, judges, and the Department of Family to identify the needs and specifications of the system.  The Office of Court Administration hired Rock Solid Company, a private technology firm, to develop statistical reports for the CIP application.