The Court Improvement Program (CIP) provides Federal funding to State and Tribal courts to assess their child welfare and judicial practices and develop and implement improvement plans. States and Tribes use CIP funds in a variety of ways, including improving legal representation and hearing quality, enhancing the engagement of families in court proceedings, supporting child welfare and court partnerships, addressing systemic barriers, and promoting equitable court practices.

Through their CIPs, jurisdictions can increase access to legal services, which helps families advocate for their needs and resolve issues that could lead to child welfare involvement and unnecessary entries into foster care. CIPs can support the legal needs of kin caregivers by helping coordinate with other legal services and working with kinship navigator programs. CIPs should assess and address how judicial policies may perpetuate systemic barriers for underserved children and families and consider improvements to create equitable systems.

Collaborative efforts between legal and judicial communities and State and Tribal child welfare agencies can support improved Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) outcomes. Legal and judicial professionals are vital in CFSRs, including in statewide assessments, onsite reviews, and the Program Improvement Plan process.

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