Dependency Courts

State Links


Alabama Court Improvement ProjectThis Court Improvement Project focuses on assessing the role, responsibilities, and effectiveness of state courts in handling dependency cases; designing a program for improving the processing of dependency cases; and implementing the program in accordance with the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980.


Alaska Court Improvement Plan.  Alaska's Child Protection Services, 2003. The Improvement Plan which was created from over 100 participants representing the Child Welfare Services and the Court Improvement Project. The report addresses the management of heavy workloads, the need for more services accessible for all children and families who need them, streamlining of business processes, expediting of permanency for children, and improvement of case management and follow-up.


Arizona Court Improvement Program . Arizona Supreme Court. The project is designed to enable state court systems to carry out an accurate assessment of their functioning and develop a plan that ensures justice for children.

Siegel, G.C., and M. Robbins. Termination of Parental Rights by Jury Trials in Arizona: A First Year Look. (May 2005). Prepared by the Arizona Administrative Office of the Courts, Dependent Children’s Services Division. This report explains the Pew Commission’s recommendations to achieve better and timelier decisions affecting children in permanency cases in Arizona juvenile courts.

The Arizona Court Improvement Project: 5 Years Later. National Center for Juvenile Justice (2002). This report is an evaluation of the reforms that were intended to alter the role of juvenile courts in dependency matters by expediting initial dependency hearings, reducing mandated timelines for dependency findings, specifying time frames for permanency plans, and placing a greater emphasis on services for children and families.


Arkansas Court Improvement Reassessment Report. Arkansas Supreme Court Ad Hoc Committee on Foster Care and Adoption and the CIP Reassessment Team, October 2005. This report explains the progress of the Arkansas Court Improvement Committee, which was charged with assessing the current status of the juvenile court system, recommending changes, and overseeing the implementation of these changes.


California Juvenile Court Dependency Improvement Program Reassessment. California Administrative Office of the Courts, Center for Children and Families (November 2005). This is a 2005 reassessment of the Improvement Program, including a progress report of the original recommendations, a detailed review of the dependency court, and new recommendations for court improvement. 

Deihl, R.M., M. Martin, and S. Nunez. Caregivers and the Courts: Improving Court Decisions Affecting Children in Foster Care. San Francisco: Center for Families, Children and the Courts (2002). T his report presents findings from a collaborative effort between the Center for Families, Children and the Courts, Administrative Office of the Courts, and the National Center for Youth Law. The study examines how training in the dependency-court process affects caregivers’ knowledge and attitudes about participating in court hearings and the likelihood that they will participate. 


Colorado's Court Improvement Program. Colorado Court Improvement Committee (2005). This annual program report addresses the outcomes of court improvement activities and how they help provide for the safety, well-being, and permanence of children in foster care. 

Thoennes, N. Family Court Pilot in Colorado’s 17thJudicial District, Denver: Center for Policy Research (2001).The Family Court Pilot Program was designed to create an environment where agencies and individuals work together to improve the delivery of services to families that need them. This report explains the purpose and practices of the Family Court Pilot project, which include providing training for judges on matters related to families and family conflict, increasing diversion of cases from litigation into alternative dispute resolution forums, and encouraging longer rotation periods for judges.


Thoennes, N. Evaluation of the Araphoe County and El Paso County GAL/CASA pilots. Denver: Center for Policy Research (1999). This report highlights the progress of joint efforts to represent abused and neglected children between CASA and the attorney appointed as guardian ad litem (GAL).


Connecticut Case Management Protocol: Evaluability Assessment Site Visit Report.   U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. The report presents an overview of Connecticut's case management protocol and describes how it fits into the state's judicial child protection system, presents a recommended evaluation approach, and explains the findings of the evaluation.


Delaware Systemic Court Reform Evaluability Assessment Site Visit Report . U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. The report presents an overview of Delaware's Court Improvement Program and the context in which reforms have been implemented, as well as a detailed logic model for the evaluation. This model defines the inputs and immediate outputs from the reforms, along with immediate and long-range outcomes for the court system. 

Federal Courts

National Court Improvement Progress Report and Catalog.  This database was created by the American Bar Association, Center on Children and the Law.  It contains state-by-state information on the progress of court improvement projects.  Users can access information on a variety of topics, such as alternative dispute resolution, court staffing, training and education, and funding issues.  State summary information goes back to 2003.


Florida Office of Court Improvement. Office of the State Court Administrator, FL. 


Georgia Court Improvement Initiative. The Administrative Office of the Courts. The Georgia Court Improvement Initiative Deprivation is a joint project of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges and the Child Placement Project. The project works with juvenile judges to bring together court staff and other related agencies to improve court procedures and implement "best practices." It offers training, referrals to other programs, and hands-on assistance.


Child and Family Services Review: Program Improvement Plan . State of Hawaii Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Services Branch (2004). This report presents the findings of the Child and Family Services Review Committee, which was created to review safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes for children in permanency cases.


Child and Family Services Five Year Program and Services Report and Five Year Plan.  Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (June 2004).  This report highlights the progress and future endeavors of a joint venture between the Idaho Health and Welfare Department and the Idaho Court Improvement Project of the Idaho Supreme Court.


Illinois State Court Improvement Program. Provides links to forms, reports, and general information about Illinois' Court Improvement Program.


Indiana Court Improvement Program. Indiana Supreme Court. The State Court Improvement Program is designed to help Indiana state courts implement alternatives and improvements to their systems and to expand those systems that are already successful.

Indiana Court Improvement Program Reassessment Final Report .  Indiana Supreme Court (2005). This report presents five key recommendations to the Indiana Supreme Court. These include putting cases on a fast track, reducing the time from disposition to conclusion, enhancing the training of participants in the juvenile justice system, establishing family courts in Indiana, and improving coordination of services delivered pursuant to orders in CHINS cases.


Landsman, M.J., K. and Thompson.  The Iowa Mediation for Permanency Project: Final Report. Washington, D.C.: Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000). The Iowa Mediation for Permanency Project was a three-year demonstration project intended to test the effectiveness of a non adversarial system for reducing the duration of time children spend in foster care. The report provides case studies, client profile data, and sample mediation booklets.


Kansas Standardized Court Orders: Evaluability Assessment Site Visit Report. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families.  This report evaluates the progress of the Kansas CIP based on a site visit conducted in August 2002 and a review of documents provided by the court.


Kentucky Court Improvement Project.  The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice. The mission of the Kentucky Court Improvement Project is to develop best-practice guidelines and technology to help courts streamline and improve the permanent-placement process for children and their permanent custodians.

Collins-Camargo, Crystal. Kentucky Summit on Children Process Evaluation and Key Findings Report. University of Kentucky College of Social Work, Training Resource Center (2008). 


Louisiana Court Improvement Program. Louisiana Supreme Court. The Louisiana Court Improvement Program works with judges, court administrators and staff, attorneys, court appointed special advocates and other child-welfare stakeholders to successfully implement the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 and the concomitant Louisiana law


Foster Care Court Improvement Project  Maryland Department of Family Administration. This best practices manual explains the 1997 recommendations made by the Maryland CIP, as well as past, present, and future initiatives to achieve these goals.


Michigan Court Improvement Program. State Court Administrative Office of Michigan (2001). This final report from the Michigan CIP highlights the recommendations of the CIP to provide justice to children in child-protection cases.

Anderson, G. R. and Whalen, P. Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation: Final Report. Lansing, MI: Michigan State University School of Social Work(2004).  
This project, funded by the Michigan CIP along with the Governor’s Task Force on Children’s Justice, was designed to assess the affect of mediation on the ability to provide justice to children in dependency cases.


State of Mississippi Title IV-E Child Welfare Waiver Demonstration Project. Final Evaluation Report. Mississippi Division of Family and Children’s Services (2005).   This report highlights the findings of the Waiver Demonstration Project, which created guidelines to increase the available services to children and their families to reduce harm to children, reduce foster-care placements, and achieve greater permanency for children.


Loman, A., and G. Siegel. Juvenile Court Improvement Project. St. Louis, Institute of Applied Research (2003). This is the final evaluation of the Missouri Family Court Improvement Project in the Juvenile Court in the City of St. Louis. The JCIP was designed to implement reforms in the juvenile court and to evaluate their effectiveness and the outcomes for families and children.


Nebraska Court Improvement Project. Nebraska Supreme Court's Commission on Children. The Court Improvement Project recommends the appropriate steps for the judicial system to undertake to ensure that the court system is as responsive as possible for children who are directly affected by the courts. The CIP investigates system concerns, researches more effective and efficient approaches to these cases, and makes recommendations for change to the supreme court when warranted.

Projects and Outreach: Nebraska's Court Improvement Project. Center for Children, Families and the Law. University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Using federal funding made available through a contract with the Supreme Court of Nebraska, this project is designed to improve the functioning of the state court system in responding to cases involving children who have been abused or neglected.


Court Improvement Project . Nevada Supreme Court. The Nevada Court Improvement Project was formed to address changing roles of court oversight in child-abuse-and-neglect cases brought on by federal guidelines and Nevada statutes.   

New Jersey

Dobbin, S. A., and S.L. Gatowski, and M. Litchfield.The Essex County Child Welfare Mediation Program: Evaluation Results and Recommendations. Reno, NV: Permanency Planning for Children Department, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (2001). This report explains the goals of the Essex County Child Welfare Mediation Program, which was intended to implement mediation to expedite child-dependency cases in Nevada.

New Mexico

New Mexico Court Improvement Project. New Mexico Supreme Court. The Court Improvement Project (CIP) was created to assess and improve judicial proceedings related to child abuse and neglect, foster care, and adoption.

New York

State Court Improvement Project.  New York State Unified Court System. This site provides contact information for those working within the CIP, publications related to court- improvement projects and child-welfare improvements, and a history of child-dependency cases in New York State.

North Carolina

Usher, C.L., J.B. Wildfire, E.L. Brown, D.F. Duncan, A. Meier, M.A. Salmon, J. Painter, and H.C. Gogan.  Evaluation of the Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration in North Carolina. Chapel Hill, NC: Jordan Institute for Families, University of North Carolina (2002). This report presents the recommendations of the Title IV-E Waiver Committee to ensure justice be served quickly and fairly to children in dependency cases.  

Court Improvement Program for Children and Families
North Carolina Court System. The Court Improvement Program was established by grant as part of a Federal initiative to support family preservation, prevention of child abuse, and services to families at risk. Its purpose is to assess and improve court processes related to foster care and adoption.


Thoennes, N.  Permanent Custody Mediation: Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division. Denver: Center for Policy Research (2001). This report highlights the success of using mediation to curb delay and expedite justice to children in dependency cases.


Juvenile Court Improvement Project .  Oregon State Courts.  The Juvenile Court Improvement Project (JCIP) is a federally funded project to improve court practice in child-abuse-and-neglect cases.  

The Juvenile Court Improvement Project Re-Assessment.
Oregon State Courts (2011). This report discusses changes to Oregon’s juvenile courts since 1997 and is a contribution to a nationwide reevaluation of state courts’ implementation of state and federal child-welfare laws.


Program Improvement Plan Summary. Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (2005). This report highlights the progress of the Pennsylvania CIP regarding the project's original goals, which are defining standards, enhancing training, providing assistance and support, monitoring, and implementing county/provider standards.

Child Welfare Court Improvement Project. The wesbite includes background, assessments, strategic plans, resources, and reports of the project.  

Rhode Island

Rhode Island: State Summary.  National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues. This report evaluates the progress of the Rhode Island Court Improvement Project, which was created to enhance and improve the court's response to child-protection cases.


Tennessee Court Improvement Project. Tennessee State Courts. The Court Improvement Project works to improve juvenile court response to children who are dependent and are at risk of, or placed in, foster care.


Family Group Decision-Making: Final Evaluation. Austin: Texas Dept. of Family and Protective Services (2006). This reports provides an evaluation of the impact of the family-group decision-making project on the ability to expedite child-dependency cases. The decision-making project was implemented by the Texas Permanency Planning Team to provide a range of mediation approaches to help children and families involved in dependency cases.


Virginia Court Improvement Program.  National Center for State Courts, Symposium on Improving Outcomes for Abused and Neglected Children (June 4-6, 2000). This report provides sample case-entry screens, forms, and report formats used by Virginia courts to track information needed for dependency-performance measures.


Timeliness of Dependency Case Processing in Washington: 2008 Annual Report. Olympia, WA: Administrative Office of the Courts, Washington State Center for Court Research (2008). This report presents data on dependency case processing performance measures and analyzes all dependency and termination cases filed in Washington from January 1, 2002 to August 31, 2008.

Harper, C.J., K. Brennan, and J. Szolnoki. Dependency and Termination Parents’ Representation Program: Evaluation Report. Seattle: Northwest Institute for Children and Families (2005).
This report presents the goals and outcomes of the program, which include providing financial support to reduce caseloads, access to social-worker staff, expert and investigative resources, and attorney training.

West Virginia

West Virginia Court Improvement Program Final Report. West Virginia Supreme Court (2002). This report explains that the West Virginia Court Improvement Program (CIP) has continued its efforts to implement improvements to West Virginia courts relating to child-abuse-and-neglect cases. The program’s activities in 2002 focused primarily on continuing with successful ongoing projects. For more current information regarding West Virginia's Court Improvement Program please visit their Web site.


Wisconsin Court Improvement Program. Wisconsin State Courts. The Wisconsin Court Improvement Program works to improve the handling of child-abuse-and neglect, termination-of-parental-rights, and adoption cases in the court system.

Wisconsin Children's Court Initiative Summary Report. Wisconsin Supreme Court, Children's Court Improvement Program (2012). The purpose of the reassessment is to update each state’s earlier assessment of court performance in processing child-welfare cases and to determine what progress has been made since the original assessments.