Court Improvement/Court Reform
Many courts across the country, in concert with child welfare agencies, are working to improve their processes or reform their systems to achieve better outcomes for children and families involved in child abuse and neglect cases. Resources include State and local examples.
Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases
American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, & National Center for State Courts
Describes measures to assess court performance in child abuse and neglect cases, addressing child safety, permanency, timeliness, due process, and well-being. The website also offers resources on the development of court performance measures and strategies to implement them.
Toolkit for Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Provides detailed guidance about court performance measures for child abuse and neglect cases and offers a general approach that can help dependency courts implement a performance measurement process successfully.
Court Improvement and Best Practices
Children's Bureau User Manual Series (2006)
In Working With the Courts in Child Protection
Provides an overview of the role of the courts in the Child and Family Services Reviews, highlights best practices in the courts, and discusses the importance of judicial leadership in improving court practice.
Exemplary Family Court Programs and Practices: Profiles of Innovative and Accountable Court-Connected Programs (PDF - 501 KB)
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Court Services Task Force (2005)
Presents profiles of 69 creative, innovative, effective, and accountable programs that cover psychological, social, and legal needs of families involved in family law proceedings.
Justice for Children: Changing Lives by Changing Systems: A National Call to Action (PDF - 1540 KB)
National Judicial Leadership Summit on the Protection of Children (2006)
Outlines strategies and actions for reforming the child welfare system in establishing accountability for permanence, child safety, and well-being; fostering collaboration among courts and executive branch agencies; encouraging judicial leadership; and providing an effective voice in courts for children and parents.
The Mental Health Court Model: Can Child Dependency Courts Benefit? (PDF - 904 KB)
National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues
Child CourtWorks, 10(1), 2008
Proposes the development of mental health courts as an alternative to criminal courts for individuals with mental illnesses, and explores whether elements of the mental health court model are applicable to dependency courts.
Performance Measures for Courts: The Next Step in Foster Care Reform (PDF - 408 KB)
National Council for Adoption
Adoption Advocate, 2005
Discusses recommended court performance measures to improve outcomes for foster children, key strategies for court improvement, and the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders in court accountability and improvement.
Research and Reform for Children in Court, Inc.
Promotes systemic transformation for courts through research-informed decision-making and evidence-based practice. The website offers information on publications and initiatives as well as links to articles, videos, and related organizations.
Using Non-Judicial Court Staff to Help Achieve Permanency for Children
American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law (2005)
Outlines innovative practices for redefining and reallocating the responsibilities of nonjudicial court staff to improve permanency outcomes for children.
State and local examples
California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care Final Recommendations to the Judicial Council
Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care (2008)
Contains recommendations for improving California's juvenile dependency courts and foster care system and provides the values and principles that the commission adopted to guide and inform its development of the recommendations.
From the Benches and Trenches: Evaluating the Court Process for Alaska's Children in Need of Aid
Justice System Journal, 29(2), 2008
Describes how the Alaska court system handles child protection cases and discusses the court's performance in the context of applicable State and Federal case-processing standards, including timeliness, efficiency, fairness, treatment of parties, and quality of proceedings.
Judicial Leadership and Child Protection (PDF - 84 KB)
Center for Public Policy Priorities (2007)
Explores the judge's role in collaborative efforts to strengthen the Texas child welfare system, such as multidisciplinary task forces or court improvement projects.
New York City Family Court: Blueprint for Change (PDF - 875 KB)
Center for Court Innovation (2010)
Examines the permanency planning process and provides a plan for improving the processing of abuse and neglect matters in the New York City Family Court.
Permanent Judicial Commission on Children, Youth and Families: Strategic Plan 2008-2011 (PDF - 24 KB)
Permanent Judicial Commission on Children, Youth and Families (2008)
Presents Texas's plan for promoting judicial leadership, identifying and implementing best practices, improving the quality of legal representation, and promoting accountability for improvements in courts involved in child protection cases.
Strengthening Georgia's Juvenile Courts: Striving for Better Outcomes for Georgia's Foster Children (PDF - 316 KB)
Baynes, vander Straeten, & Onifade (2005)
Describes performance measures to assist the court community in measuring case processing, identifying areas of improvement, and tracking progress on specific court improvement projects. The report recommends strategies for achieving positive outcomes on each measure.
Timeliness of Dependency Case Processing in Washington: Annual Report (PDF - 5500 KB)
Washington State Center for Court Research (2008)
Presents State and county data on performance measures designed to assess the timeliness of dependency case processing in Washington's courts.
Wisconsin Children's Court Initiative Summary Report (PDF - 104 KB)
Children's Court Improvement Program (2008)
Presents the data, findings, and best practices identified during a county circuit court review process designed to strengthen court processing in child welfare and termination of parental rights cases.