Court Improvement Program
The highest court of each State and territory participating in the Court Improvement Program (CIP) receives a grant from the Children's Bureau to complete a detailed self-assessment and develop and implement recommendations to enhance the court's role in achieving stable, permanent homes for children in foster care. Strategies include, for example, improving the timeliness and quality of hearings, reducing attorney and judicial caseloads, enhancing the quality of legal representation, and using computer technology and management information systems. Use the following resources to learn more about CIPs.
Child Welfare Court Improvement
National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues
Presents information about States' efforts to improve their child welfare court systems. The site offers a bimonthly newsletter, a catalog that is searchable by State and topic, and more.
Court Improvement Project Community of Practice
Provides an online forum to encourage the open exchange of information, experiences, initiatives, and ideas related to CIPs. The website includes a community directory, calendar of events, and information on training, data and technology, legislation, interstate cases, Tribal issues, and more.
Fostering Court Improvement
Children and Family Resource Center, Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic, Fostering Results, & National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues
Gives States an efficient mechanism for sharing data between dependency courts and child welfare agencies so they can more effectively manage systems. The website includes information on States participating in the initiative as well as resources that encourage the use of data to improve collaboration.
Dependency Court Improvement State Links
National Center for State Courts
Provides links to and brief descriptions of court improvement projects in 40 States.
Community Partnerships for Juvenile Dependency Court Improvement
ABA Center on Children and the Law (2005)
Presents a list of potential community partners for States to engage in support of their court improvement efforts.
Child Welfare: The Court Improvement Program
Congressional Research Service (2006)
View Abstract and Document
Provides an overview of the Court Improvement Program, its legislative history, structure, and funding.
National Evaluation of the Court Improvement Program
Explains a project designed to describe the paths followed by State courts to improve their oversight of foster care and adoption cases and analyze the outcomes achieved. The website offers evaluation results, including reviews and syntheses of State and local court reform activities, existing court reform evaluations, and State reassessments.
Some Sample Court Improvement Themes and Strategies to Consider Addressing in a PIP (PDF - 48 KB)
National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues (2007)
Summarizes potential legal-judicial themes and strategies to address during the CFSR process, including delays in the legal process, improved legal representation, foster parent involvement, concurrent planning, and judicial performance.