Court Improvement Program News and Report - 3rd Quarter 2017

11/28/2017 3:45:56 PM

During the past quarter (June through September, 2017), the Court Improvement Program (CIP) has focused on three primary strategies: improving timeliness to permanency for children; increasing judicial, attorney, and stakeholder's knowledge and expertise; and building systemic capacity through continual quality improvement (CQI) and data exchange.


CIP's principal initiatives to help reduce barriers to timely permanency for children included supporting the Community Improvement Councils (CIC) in each judicial district.  During the 2016 CIC Summit, the CICs developed aggressive action plans for the upcoming year. The CIP Coordinator attended and participated in CIC meetings in the majority of the judicial districts throughout the State, providing support and information to assist with the implementation of the action plans.

To help improve timeliness to permanency and build systemic capacity, CIP and DCFS launched a joint project, the statewide Juvenile Dependency Mediation Program (JDMP) on July 1, 2016. In the first year of implementation, 101 mediations were ordered, with only ten in which either parents or attorneys didn't show up, resulting in 91 mediations being conducted across the state.  Seventy-seven (77) or 85% of those mediations resulted in full or partial agreement. In the first quarter of the second year of implementation, 48 mediations were ordered with 12 in which parents didn't show or mediation was cancelled, resulting in 36 mediations being held. Thirty-two (32) or 88% of those mediations resulted in full or partial agreement.

The use of mediation is increasing and is successful.  At the current rate, it can be anticipated that 2.5 times more mediations will be conducted in the second year of implementation compared to the first year of JDMP. During the first year of implementation, mediation helped 152 children achieve permanency at an average of cost of only $279.59 per child.   

Since the On-Line Attorney Dependency training was launched the end of January 2017; 81 attorneys and CASAs from across the state have registered to take the course. Several courts are requiring contract attorneys to complete the course. Others are also suggesting the course for their CASAs.

The Indian Child Welfare Act on-line training with Victoria Sweet, Esq. from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) was launched on September 5, 2017 on the Supreme Court's Distance Education Learning Portal.  Thus far, 13 have registered for the course earning 2 CLEs.  The on-line training for children's attorneys has been taped.  Judge Sullivan, Janice Wolf, Esq. and Kim Abbott, Esq. from LACSN and Tirzah Matthews, Esq., Deputy Attorney General, and Massey Mayo, Esq., children's attorney, spent over 7 hours taping and many more hours planning this comprehensive introduction to representing children involved in dependency cases.  Evie Lancaster from AOC Judicial Education Unit efficiently guided us through the planning and taping process.  We expect to launch this training in the next few months after editing it into modules.

In August, the Statewide Collaborative on Education, Child Welfare, and the Courts with technical assistance from the ABA Center on Children and the Law held an educational webinar for school districts and child welfare staff on MOUs between child welfare and school districts concerning best interest decision-making processes and forms, and sample local transportation procedures, and implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and AB491, which put ESSA into NRS. A basic factsheet on ESSA and AB491 was distributed to participants. The Collaborative is finalizing an academic plan template that can be put into Infinite Campus, the education database used by school districts and NDE, to be accessible to all school districts.

On September 27, 2017, District Court Judges from across the state gathered at a Judge's Round Table for the CIC Summit to discuss court orders, appeals, reasonable efforts, and warrants.  The next two days, 75 participants representing CIC teams from all 11 judicial districts came together to learn about and discuss the keys to unlocking the quality hearing door.  Christopher Church, Esq., Director of the Children's Law Center at the University of South Carolina, presented a different way of looking at dependency data that provided a deeper explanation of timeliness which is simply an end measure.  These additional measures helped the CICs understand some of what takes place to get to the end measure which will help them plan more effective interventions.  Each CIC created an action plan for the upcoming year that included how they are going to monitoring one of their actions.