Dependency Courts

Resource Guide

Through the collaboration of courts and child-welfare agencies, improvements in dependency courts to implement promising practices such as performance measures to improve accountability, enhance and increase the legal representation of children and their parents, improve caseflow management, and strengthening the management information systems is crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of neglected and abused children.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.

Featured Resources

Child Welfare Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration Projects 2012-2014. The federal Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act ( P.L. 112-34), which was signed into law on September 30, 2011, reauthorized the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to approve new Child Welfare Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration Projects. The Waiver reauthorization does not provide additional funding. Instead, it allows more flexible use of federal Title IV-E funds to test new service delivery and financing approaches to improve outcomes for children and families involved in the child welfare system. HHS may approve up to 10 projects per year in federal fiscal years 2012 to 2014. See the Court Fact Sheet for more information.
FAQs related to Title IV-E Waivers.

Allowing for more flexible use of Federal funds in order to test new approaches to service delivery and financing structures in child welfare, IV-E Waivers can increase service availability and support court functions.   This document sets forth how Courts can give voice to systemic needs and support a waiver application and answers Frequently Asked Questions (hyperlinked).

Data Exchange and IT Systems

Flango, Victor E. Extending Court Case Management Systems: The Need for Data Exchange. (Spring 2008). Unified Family Court Connection This article addresses collaboration between courts and child welfare and explains how sharing electronic data can improve outcomes for children in the child protection system.
Juvenile Functional Standards -- V1.0. (2003). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts This report explains the need for national functional standards for case management in juvenile proceedings and presents the functional standards created by the joint COSCA/NACM committee.
Ohio Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System. Dynamics Research Cooperation This Web site highlights the success of the automated Ohio program, which provides timely and consistent information to all state workers as they strive to support and improve the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families.
Strengthening Abuse and Neglect Courts in America: Management Information Systems (SANCA MIS) Project. National Center for State Courts, ABA Center for Children and the Law, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges This document provides an overview of this project, including functional standards and automated performance measurement.
Memorandum of Understanding. (2009).

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Utah Administrative Office of the Courts and the Utah Department of Human Services regarding establishing an interface between their management information systems.

Dependency Court Reforms

Goldman, Jill, and Marsha K. Salus. A Coordinated Response to Child Abuse and Neglect: The Foundation for Practice. (2003). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children`s Bureau This publication defines the scope of the problem, identifies contributing factors, and discusses consequences and prevention. It also discusses the laws and policies to guide public intervention, who should be involved at the community level, and how organizations can work together to protect children.
Sydow, Nora and Richard Van Duizend. Strategies for Effective Statewide Commissions on the Protection of Children.

National Center for State Courts. This report presents findings and recomendations from a study of statewide judicial commissions on the protection of children.

Court-Child Welfare Agency Collaboration Tools and Resources. Child Welfare Information Gateway This Web page provides links to several resources on court/child-welfare-agency collaboration, including several state and local examples.
Flango, Victor et al Emergency Preparedness in Dependency Courts: Ten Questions that Courts Serving Abused and Neglected Children Must Address.

The NCSC has produced this Web publication on issues to consider during times of crisis that will promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of abused and neglected children.

National Court Improvement Progress Report and Catalog. This database, maintained by the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues, contains state-by-state information on the progress of court improvement projects.  Users can find reports and information on child and family services.  State summary information goes back to 2003.
DiPietro, Susanne. Evaluating the Court Process for Alaska's Children in Need of Aid.

Justice System Journal. The study described in this article was undertaken by the Alaska Court System's Child in Need of Aid Court Improvement Committee in 2005. The study described the Alaska Court System's handling of child protection cases, compared that situation to findings from two earlier assessments, and discussed 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. (Vol. 29, No. 2)

Adoption and Permanency Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases. (Fall 2000). National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges This publication discusses the need for guidelines, the purpose of the guidelines and key principles for permanency planning, termination of parental rights, and the appeals process.
Court Improvement and Best Practices. (2006). (Chapter 9) Working with the Courts in Child Protection User Manual Series, Children`s Bureau This chapter provides an overview of the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) and the courts and information about best practices and model court programs throughout the country. It also provides information about the importance of judicial leadership in improving court practice.
Family Court Performance Standards and Measures. (1999). Adopted by the Family Court of the State of Delaware Delaware took the Trial Court Performance Standards and adopted them to family court (which has juvenile-court jurisdiction in Delaware).
Flango, Carol R., Victor E. Flango, and H. Ted Rubin. How Are Courts Coordinating Family Cases?. (1999). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts This publication covers the one-family/one-judge concept, court-centered coordination of family support services, which coordination mechanisms work most effectively, and the creation of a family-focused court.
Hardin, Mark. Improving Court`s Handling of Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: A List of Suggested Reforms. (2002). National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues, ABA Center on Children and the Law Provides short- and long-term phases to improve case management in the courts.
Justice for Children: Changing Lives by Changing Systems -- A Call to Action. (September 2005). National Judicial Leadership Summit on the Protection of Children, National Center for State Courts This report describes four main strategies for improving outcomes for children, provides an analysis of state action plans, and provides examples of several promising initiatives.
Making the Court System Work Better for Children: 25 Things Your Court Can Do. (January 2001). Judicial Council of California, Center for Families, Children and the Courts This publication describes 25 different examples of programs or services that courts can incorporate to make the court system work better for children. Each example describes its importance, the resources needed to implement, the ease of replication, and examples of model courts.
Millennium 2000 Conference: Launching Improved Court Practice in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases into the Next Century -- Report and Results. (2000). National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Conference work products include the results of four working groups and well as the text from a presentation by Chief Justice Judith S. Kaye of New York on strategies and needs for systems change to improve court practice for the new millennium.
The National Evaluation of the Court Improvement Program. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services This site describes the many paths followed by state courts to improve their oversight of foster-care and adoption cases and to analyze the outcomes achieved. It also provides the field with important information on effective models for juvenile and family court reform.
Resource Guidelines: Improving Practice in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases. (1995). Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges: Publications Development Committee, Victim of Child Abuse Project These resource guidelines set forth the essential elements of properly conducted court hearings. The guidelines describe the requirements of juvenile and family courts in fulfilling the role now placed upon them by federal and state laws. These guidelines also describe how court calendars can be efficiently managed to achieve efficiency and avoid delays; explain the court staffing and organization necessary to make the judicial process run smoothly; and clarify costs associated with such reforms.
The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. Provides links to reports, research, and recommendations for reform. See especially, Fostering the Future: Safety, Permanence and Well-Being for Children in Foster Care

Educational Success and Stability

The Texas Blueprint: Transforming Education Outcomes for Children and Youth In Foster Care. (2012).

This is the final report of the Education Committee of the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families. The Commission's select 14-member Education Committee and its subcommittees of over 100 judges, educators, social workers, and others present in its final report recommendations to improve the educational outcomes for children and youth in foster care.

Flango, Victor E. and Nora E. Sydow. Educational Well-being: Court Outcome Measures for Children in Foster Care. (June 2011).

Future Trends in State Courts. Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts.

This article presents the recently developed court education measures for children in foster care. These measures were developed by a focus group of members from the courts, child welfare, education, and research organizations.

Education is the Lifeline for Youth in Foster Care.

National Working Group on Foster Care and Education (Oct. 2011). This fact sheet discusses national foster care data, shares research findings, and highlights promising policies and programs.

Leone, Peter and Lois Weinberg. Addressing the Unmet Educational Needs of Children and Youth in the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Systems. (May 2010). Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform This paper reviews educational barriers encountered by children and youth involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems and describes recent legal and policy reforms, promising practices, and evidence-based interventions to improve educational outcomes for these youth.
Asking the Right Questions II: Judicial Checklists to Meet the Educational Needs of Children and Youth in Foster Care. (December 2008). Permanency Planning for Children Department, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges This publication includes three checklists of critical questions every judge should ask regarding education to ensure the educational needs of children and youth in care are met. 
Blueprint for Change: Educational Success for Children in Foster Care, 2nd ed. (2008). Legal Center for Foster Care and Education The Blueprint for Change is a tool to improve educational success for children in foster care. The Blueprint includes 8 Goals for Youth and Benchmarks for each goal indicating progress toward achieving education success. Following each goal are National, State, and Local Examples of policies, practices, programs, and resources that exist to improve educational outcomes for children in foster care.
AOC Briefing: Sharing Information about Children in Foster Care: Education Information. (2010).

This briefing, prepared by the California AOC's Center for Families, Children & the Courts, addresses disclosure of education information held by schools and education officials.  The brief states that currently (2010) two California counties, San Diego and Fresno, are exchanging data between education, the child welfare agency, and the court.

Taitano, Kim. Court-Based Education Efforts for Children in Foster Care: The Experience of the Pima County Juvenile Court. (2007). Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges This Report outlines the efforts of the Pima County Juvenile Court, a participant in the NCJFCJ Model Court Program, in improving the educational outcomes for children in foster care.
Wisconsin Commission on Children, Families and the Courts Judicial Checklist - Educational Stability. (2011).

This checklist was designed to assist judicial officers hearing child protection cases by highlighting key educational questions to ask during hearings.

Family Drug Treatment Courts

Young, N.K., Breitenbucher, P., & Pfeifer, J. Guidance to States: Recommendations for Developing Family Drug Court Guidelines. (2013).

Prepared for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention by Children and Family Futures, along with the National Drug Court Institute and with Federal, State, and other stakeholders to offer guidelines to "help states and programs create systems changes that will have a lasting impact on Family Drug Courts (FDCs), the policies of courts and child welfare and treatment service systems, and community‐based organizations serving parents, children, and families. This document provides guidance for implementing an FDC, including the development of FDC partnerships and a common vocabulary for describing FDC components, with a focus on improving services to families who are involved with the child welfare system and are affected by substance use disorders."

Wheeler, Meghan M. and Carson L. Fox, Jr. Drug Court Practitioner Fact Sheet: Family Dependency Treatment Court: Applying the Drug Court Model in Child Maltreatment Cases.. (June 2006). National Drug Court Institute This Practitioner Fact Sheet provides useful information and research on family dependency treatment courts.
Family Dependency Treatment Courts: Addressing Child Abuse and Neglect Cases Using the Drug Court Model. (December 2004). National Drug Court Institute and Center for Substance Abuse Treatment This publication discusses issues surrounding Family Dependency Treatment Courts (FDTCs) brought up in a 1999 focus group of teams from some of the most well established FDTCs, including Kansas City (MO), Reno (NV), San Diego (CA) and Suffolk County (NY).
Family Dependency Treatment Courts State-By-State Links.

This National Center for State Courts resource provides state-by-state links to family dependency treatment courts.

ICWA eNotice

Electronic Noticing in Indian Child Welfare Cases-Making It Happen . (October 2014).

This pre-recorded webinar provides information for courts on electronic notification in cases that fall under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

Infants and Toddlers

Dicker, Sheryl and Elysa Gordon Ensuring the Healthy Development of Infants in Foster Care: A Guide for Judges, Advocates and Child Welfare Professionals. (January 2004). New York Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children This handbook is a valuable tool to help understand the questions to ask and the resources that can address the special needs of infants in foster care.
Hudson, Lucy et al. Healing the Youngest Children: Model Court-Community Partnerships. (March 2007). ABA Center for Children and the Law and Zero to Three, Policy and Practice Brief This publication provides examples of various models or promising practices and identifies common components and practice tips for developing court-community partnerships.
Safe Babies Court Teams: Building Strong Families and Healthy Communities..

Safe Babies Court Teams: Building Strong Families and Healthy Communities was developed to raise awareness of the impact maltreatment has on developmental outcomes for infants and toddlers. Through the example of the Miami-Dade County, Florida juvenile court, the DVD highlights how judges can intervene on behalf of the child.

Osofsky, Joy D. Questions Every Judge and Lawyer Should Ask About Infants and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System. (Spring 2004). Juvenile and Family Court Journal These checklists were developed for use in addressing the special needs of infants and toddlers in the child welfare system and advocating for the protection of this special population of children.

Involving Children and Parents

Hon. Bobbe J. Bridge Involving Youth in the Dependency Court Process: The Washington State Experience. Family Court Review, Vol. 48 No. 2, April 284–293. (2010).

This article discusses Washington state's Dependent Youth Interview Project, a pilot program for judicial officers to interview dependent youth, twelve years or older, during dependency hearings for the purpose of determining the youth's wishes.

Children in Court Study. Through the Eyes of the Child, Nebraska Supreme Court The University of Nebraska's Center on Children, Families, and the Law completed a study that assessed children's perceptions regarding their participation in the court process, and explored the impact of children's participation on the court process.
The ABA Youth Engagement Project.

This ABA project provides training and technical assistance to assist judges, attorneys and other stakeholders with involving youth in court hearings and case planning.

Effective Approaches for Engaging Parents in the Child Protection Process.

This webinar, hosted by the National Center for State Courts as a follow-up to the 2009 Third National Leadership Summit on the Protection of Children, addressed the importance and impact of parental involvement in the child protection process. Panelists included the ABA's Mimi Lavar, Vivek Sankaran of the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, Judge Thomas Kennedy and Magistrate Evelyn Sullivan from Colorado, and Alicia Davis from Colorado's Office of Court Administration.

How Children`s Voices are Heard in Child Protective Proceedings. (2005). Representing Children Worldwide, Yale Law School Representing Children Worldwide is a 2005 survey conducted by the Yale Law School that examined the legal provisions of 194 countries and 56 states concerning how children's voices are heard in child protective proceedings.  The results of this survey are available on an interactive Web site.  Also found on the site are summary tables comparing the U.S. states as well as countries worldwide.
Involving Children in Dependency Court Hearings. (March 2007). Promising Practices Series, Children`s Bureau Express, Administration for Children and Families 8, no. 2
State-by-State Summary of Youth Involvement in Court. (June 2009). American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law This summary examines every state dependency statute and court rule to determine whether a child 1) is considered a party, 2) is entitled to notice of proceedings, and 3) has a right to be present during proceedings.

Judicial Guides Checklists and Tools

Family Court Tool Kit: Trauma and Child Development. (2015).

Several Florida Supreme Court steering committees and the Office of Court Improvement have developed Judicial Tool Kits. The most recent tool kit, developed in 2015, provides information about child development and trauma.

Lund, Theresa Roe and Jennifer Renne. Child Safety: A Guide for Judges and Attorneys. (2009). American Bar Association and ACTION for Child Protection, Inc. The purpose of this Guide is to provide judges and attorneys with a practical summary about child safety so they can: (1) evaluate whether agency recommendations regarding child safety are based on sufficient information; (2) recognize recommendations that follow logical reasoning and analysis; (3) identify what additional specific information must be gathered and reported to the court; and (4) have confidence in decisions about child safety, which will improve decision making regarding permanency and well-being.
A Judicial Checklist for Children and Youth Exposed to Violence. (2006). National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Technical Assistance Brief This guidebook discusses the effect that exposure to violence has on children and youth and reviews several promising community collaborations that employ a multidisciplinary approach in responding to children's exposure to violence. Children who witness domestic violence have an increased threat of becoming victims of child abuse or neglect.
Well Being Checklists. Child Protection Best Practices Bulletin: Innovative Strategies to Achieve Safety, Permanence, and Well-Being. This is a checklist for judges, case staff, and caseworkers to ensure the safety and well-being in children in permanency cases.

Mediation and Family Group Conferencing

Child Planning Conferences Best Practices and Procedures For Juvenile Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases in North Carolina. (May 2009). North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, Court Services Division For more than ten years, the district courts in North Carolina have been using the Child Planning Conference Model (CPC) to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the juvenile court process in abuse, neglect, and dependency cases.  This report details the best practices and procedures of this model.
Introducing Child Permanency Mediation in New York State: Planning and Implementing a Multi-Site Pilot Project . (January 2006). Technical Assistance Brief, Permanency Planning for Children Department, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges This resource provides information about how to establish a permanency mediation program, including collaboration with government partners, implementation of pilot projects at the local government level, program challenges, a pilot-site checklist, and a sample program protocol. 
Edwards, Leonard P., Hon. Mediation in Child Protection Cases. (2004). Journal of the Center for Families, Children and the Courts This article discusses the role of judicial proceedings, the child welfare agency, and the mediator in dependency mediation cases. 
Pennsylvania Family Group Decision Making Toolkit: To Guide and Support Best Practice Implementation . (Fall 2008). Pennsylvania Family Group Decision Making Leadership Team This Toolkit serves as a guide to the implementation of Family Group Decision Making (FGDM).  It is organized to be useful outside Pennsylvania as well.

Older Youth

Engaging Older Youth in the Courtroom. . American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law. This benchcard, a resource of the ABA's Bar-Youth Empowerment Project, was designed to assist judges with meaningfully and appropriately involving older youth in the courtroom.
Courtney, Mark E. and Amy Dworsky Midwest Study of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth. (2011). Chapin Hall. This longitudinal study follows 700 young people in three Midwestern states (Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin) as they age out of foster care.  The three states have different policies on the age at which foster care ends.
Susan Golonka. The Transition to Adulthood: How States Can Support Older Youth in Foster Care. NGA Center for Best Practices. (2010).

This NGA Center for Best Practices report provides successful state strategies in the following five areas: (1) promoting educational achievement; (2) connecting youth with employment and career training; (3) enhancing access to safe and affordable housing; (4) helping youth access and manage health care; and (5) helping youth build stable and lifelong relationships.

Permanency for Older Youth: Strategies that Work, a Webcast.

This National Governors Association webcast provided an overview of the issue and examples of how leaders in states, the legal community, and youth themselves are working to reduce the number of older youth in foster care.  The webcast featured Krista Penrod from Iowa's Youth Elevate program, the ABA's Andrea Khoury, and The Homecoming Project's Michelle Chalmers.

David Altschuler, et al. Supporting Youth in Transition to Adulthood: Lessons Learned from Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice. (April 2009).

This paper focuses on crossover youth and discusses the successes and challenges that juvenile justice and child welfare agencies face in preparing these youth for a successful adulthood.

Performance Measurement

Toolkit for Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases. (December 2008). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention This Toolkit was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and was created with technical assistance from the American Bar Association, the National Center for State Courts, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.  The Toolkit offers assistance with court performance measurement in child abuse and neglect cases, and includes five publications: a Technical Guide , Implementation Guide , User's Guide , Assessment Guide , and a Key Measures publication.
Hardin, Mark, and Molly Hicks. Appendix G: Sample Court Report: How Courts Can Use Data to Improve Performance in Dependency Cases -- Linkages Between Performance Measurement and Workload. (June 2000). Symposium on Improving Court Outcomes for Abused and Neglected Children, Williamsburg, VA
Building a Better Court: Measuring and Improving Court Performance and Judicial Workload in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases. (2004). National Center for State Courts, ABA Center for Children and the Law, and National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges This publication discusses improving court performance in child abuse and neglect proceedings and includes court performance measures, assessment of judicial workload, and the planning process for improving court performance. A companion to this publication is A Toolkit for Court Performance Measurement in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases , which includes case-review, court-observation, and interview forms.
Child Welfare Court Data Metrics: Key Indicators. (2011). New York State Unified Court System, Child Welfare Court Improvement Project.

This report introduces a set of data metrics designed to provide clear, concise data in a useable format to assist the New York State Family Court (Family Court) community and government partners in achieving the best possible outcomes for children who are the subject of child abuse or neglect proceedings and to ensure the due process rights of those who come before the court.

Fostering Court Improvement: Using Performance Measures to Improve Accountability for Child Welfare and Dependency Cases. (September 2006). Fostering Court Improvement This Web page provides analysis that converts existing data from adoption and foster-care analysis and reporting systems into a longitudinal data system that will support court-performance reporting and data collection.
Hardin, Mark, Barbara Smith, and Samia Dawud-Noursi. Improving State Courts` Performance in Child Protection Cases: User`s Manual for Conducting Your Court Reassessment. (2004). National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues, ABA Center on Children and the Law Provides examples as to how states may best reevaluate their assessment programs to best reassess their child-protection programs. The manual also provides information on reassessment of foster-care and adoption litigation, intensive site evaluations, and an analysis of data collected on the subject.
Vermont County Inventory of Juvenile Practices.

Vermont created a survey with the goal of better understanding the strengths and weaknesses of juvenile practice in abuse and neglect cases statewide. The survey addresses the following areas: (1) Pre-Petition; (2) Training of Judges, Attorneys, GALs, Social Workers, and Staff; (3) Courtroom Facilities; (4) Case Assignment; (5) Court Calendaring; (6) Frontloading of Services; (7) Notice of Court Hearings; (8) Quality of Court Hearings; (9) Court Orders; (10) Legal Representation of Children and Parents; (11) State’s Attorneys; (12) GALs; (13) Disposition; (14) Court Oversight of Case Progress; (15) Permanency Hearings; (16) and Proceedings after Initial Permanency Review Hearing.

Orme, Matthew; et al. Timeliness of Dependency Case Processing in Washington State. (Washington State Center for Court Research). This report, mandated by the Washington Legislature in 2007, has served to inform policy makers as they create and shape the State’s dependency laws in an effort to improve the outcomes for children in the dependency system. It has also helped the courts to track their own progress in meeting the performance measures.
Flango, Victor E. and Nora Sydow. Well-Being: Court Performance Measures for Children. (2011).

Racial Ethnic Disproportionality

Courts Catalyzing Change. National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. .

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges' (NCJFCJ) Courts Catalyzing Change (CCC) initiative was developed to reduce disproportionality and disparate treatment in dependency court systems.  The CCC website includes many resources including CCC newsletters, reports, benchcards, and other disproportionality resources.

Disproportionality Rates for Children of Color in Foster Care Across the States. (2015). This NCJFCJ Technical Assistance Bulletin presents disproportionality rates for all 50 states.  The report indicates that nearly every state has a disproportionate number of African-American children in foster care, with most rates of foster care between 2 and 4 times the proportion of African-American children in the population.  American Indian/Alaska Native children, nationally, are overrepresented in foster care at a rate of 2.4 times their rate in the general population.
Hill, Robert B. An Analysis of Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality and Disparity at the National, State, and County Levels. (2007). Casey Family Programs This study examines the racial/ethnic disproportionality in the child welfare system at the national, state and county levels.  Included in the study are comparisons between African Americans and whites and it also incorporates other communities, namely American Indians, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics.
Chibnall, Susan, et al Children of Color in the Child Welfare System: Perspectives From the Child Welfare Community. (December 2003). U.S. Children`s Bureau This project examines the issue of racial disproportionality from the perspective of the child welfare community, including agency administrators, supervisors, and direct service workers, and to describe the strategies child welfare and child-welfare serving agencies use to meet the needs of children and families of color in the child welfare system.
Racial and Ethnic Disparity and Disproportionality in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice: A Compendium. (January 2009). Chicago: Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago This paper addresses the disparate and disproportional representation of racial and ethnic minorities in child welfare and juvenile justice and offers five intervention strategies, including (1) increasing transparency, (2) reengineering structure and procedures, (3) changing organizational culture, (4) mobilizing political leadership, and (5) partnering in developing community and family resources.


Colorado Respondent Parents` Counsel Task Force. Colorado Supreme Court In 2005, the Colorado Supreme Court through the Colorado Court Improvement Program created the Respondent Parents’ Counsel Task Force, a group of child welfare professionals, to review the issues facing respondent parents’ counsel and to make recommendations to the Supreme Court and the Colorado Legislature.  Resource found on this site include a Report to the Chief Justice and a Resource Packet that includes relevant statutes, a motion bank, Practice Guidelines, checklists, judicial checklists, and other useful resources on child welfare and domestic violence.
Legal Representation for Parents in Child Welfare Proceedings: A Performance-Based Analysis of Michigan Practice. (2009). American Bar Association, Center on Children on the Law for Michigan State Court Administrative Office In September 2008, the Child Welfare Services Division of the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) engaged the ABA's Center on Children and the Law to assess how Michigan provides representation for parents in child protection proceedings and to make recommendations for an improved parent representation model.  This report presents the findings of this assessment.
National Association of Counsel for Children. The National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) is a non-profit child advocacy and professional membership association. The NACC is dedicated to providing high quality legal representation for children. The website's publications section includes the NACC Recommendations for Representation of Children in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases, the ABA/NACC Revised Standards of Practice, and other useful resources.
Rauber, Diane Boyd. Representing Parents in Child Welfare Cases: A Basic Introduction for Attorneys. (2000). American Bar Association This publication discusses the role of parents’ counsel in child-protection proceedings, the responsibility of attorneys, pretrial independent investigations, mediation and ADR, and termination of parent’s rights.
Summary of Parent Representation Models. (2009). American Bar Association, Center on Children and the Law This information sheet summarizes a small number of parent representation models used in various states across the country.

Listservs and Newsletters

Child-Court List Group. Sponsored by the American Bar Association This listserv deals with children’s issues predominantly.  To enroll in the child-court group send a message to  saying “Subscribe child-court.”
Children`s Bureau Express Monthly E-Newsletter. Children's Bureau Express is designed for professionals concerned with child abuse and neglect, child welfare, and adoption. The Web site and newsletter provide information on top stories, current research, and promising practices related to child welfare.
Continuing Upward from the Summit E-Newsletter and Listserv. The National Center for State Courts publishes a quarterly newsletter highlighting implementation, accomplishments, and events throughout the country related to family courts and child welfare. See the most recent edition, vol. 9 (Dec. 2008), or access the archives here. To join the listserv and receive this e-newsletter, e-mail and in the body of the message put “Join Children Summit.”
The Judges` Page Newsletter. National CASA Association The Judges' Page Newsletter is a quarterly online newsletter that provides information on child welfare issues and includes articles by judicial peers.

Safely Reducing the Number of Children in Foster Care

Promoting Normalcy for Children and Youth in Foster Care. (May 2015).

Juvenile Law Center. This guide is meant to help state advocates, legislators, and agencies implement the recently enacted Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014. States must comply with many of the provisions by September 29, 2015.

Casey Family Programs 2020 Strategy.

Casey Family Programs 2020 Strategy is committed to working with state, county, and tribal child welfare systems in order to safely reduce the number of children in foster care by 50% by the year 2020.

Justice for Children A National Call to Action. (April 2006).

This report is an overview of the National Summit on child Protection held in September 2005 and a compilation of state team plans designed to reform the foster care system that resulted from the Summit.

Legislative Strategies to Safely Reduce the Number of Children in Foster Care. National Conference of State Legislatures..

This report provides state legislative strategies to safely reduce the number of children in foster care including: (1) preventing out-of-home placement; (2) reducing the length of stay in foster care; and (3) reducing racial/ethnic disproportionality and disparate outcomes.

The NGA's Policy Academy on Safely Reducing the Number of Children in Foster Care.

The goal of the National Governor's Association (NGA) Policy Academy on Safely Reducing the Number of Children in Foster Care is for participating states to develop a two-year strategic plan to safely reduce the number of children in foster care. The six states selected to participate in the Academy are Arkansas, Florida, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

Flango, Victor. Symposium on Improving Outcomes for Abused and Neglected Children. (2000). 189 pages. NCSC, ABA Center for Children and the Law, and National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. June 2000 symposium held at NCSC headquarters to discuss the goals courts and child welfare agencies are trying to achieve in handing cases involving child maltreatment. (Note: The Appendices in this publication have been bookmarked.)

Tribal Courts

The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) . This national nonprofit provides a comprehensive source of information on American Indian child welfare.  NICWA also provides public policy, research, advocacy, information, training, and community development services. For courts seeking to contact a tribe regarding an ICWA matter NICWA includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs List of Designated Tribal Agents.
National Directory of Tribal Justice Systems.

The National American Indian Court Judges Association. This national directory includes contact information for tribal justice systems in addition to Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) tribal contact information for notice purposes and tribes’ tribal affiliations.


Webcast on Court Outcome Measures of Well-Being. (2012).

This video webcast presented the newly developed court outcome measures on well-being. The webcast featured a panel discussion and questions were fielded from webcast viewers. The webcast was sponsored by the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues.