Court Improvement Program News and Report - 4th Quarter 2017

7/30/2018 2:30:01 PM

During the past quarter (October through December, 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 has:

 


 

  • Received promising news regarding CIP funding.  House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced the Continuing of Useful Resources to States Act or COURTS Act (H.R. 4461) to reauthorize and fully fund the three Court Improvement Program grants at the current level of $30 million for FY 2018 – FY 2022.  Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the companion bill in the Senate (S.2173). The reauthorization language in both bills was worked out with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), however, so there should not be a recurrence of the interpretation problem we’ve had for FY 2017 and thus far in FY 2018.  The CBO also estimates that the bills would have no cost. To pay for the necessary offset, HR 4461 proposes a reduction in the TANF Contingency Fund, which was established to help states during economic downturns. As written in the legislation the reduction would be $200 million.

 

The National Center for State Courts distributed a draft letter supporting the bills to all Court Administrators and Chief Justices encouraging them to reach out to their state representatives and senators in support of the CIP proposal in the House. Chief Justice Cherry has done this.

 

  • Registered 91 participants to complete the 5 modules of the on-line neglect and abuse training for attorneys practicing in dependency court and 15 to complete the ICWA training.

 

  • Supported the CIP Select Committee Court Order Template Subcommittee.

 

 

  • Continued full implementation of the Statewide Juvenile Dependency Mediation Program, a joint project between CIP and the Division of Child and Family Services. The Program Administrator trained attorneys, judiciary, and child welfare on dependency mediation.  Between July 1 and December 31, 2017, the courts have ordered 104 dependency mediations across the state, compared to 144 mediations ordered for the entire state during 2016 fiscal year. The agreement rate thus far is 71% for the entire state. 

 

  • Applied for and received two grants to help continue the highly successful Juvenile Dependency Mediation Program.  The Children’s Justice Act grant in the amount of $18,000 will fund training additional mediators in dependency mediation and all dependency mediators on domestic violence. The Child Abuse and Neglect grant ($53,000) will fund approximately 103 mediations.

 

  • Facilitated several Statewide Collaborative on Education, Child Welfare, and the Courts meetings. These culminated in an educational webinar for school districts and child welfare staff on MOUs between child welfare and school districts concerning foster child best interest determination processes and forms, and sample local transportation procedures to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act and AB491.

 

  • Edited the final evaluation of the Achievements Unlocked pilot project. Each foster child involved in the project is assigned an educational advocate and a student tutor to assist with academic and vocational barriers, and promote plans to achieve future aspirations. The Achievements Unlocked cohort attempted and completed more credits than the control group.  They had fewer excused and unexcused absences than the control group. By the end of the second year, 75% of the Achievements Unlocked seniors graduated and 56% of these graduates will be attending institutions of higher education to further their education.

 

  • Attended and participated in Community Improvement Council (CIC) meetings in the majority of the judicial districts throughout the State, providing support and information to assist with the implementation of their annual action plans developed during the 2016 and 2017 CIC Summits.