Courts Catalyzing Change Preliminary Protective Hearing Benchcard: Honolulu Baseline Assessment

June 5, 2012

By Stephanie Macgill, MPA, Steve Wood, MS, Alicia Summers, PhD, Jesse Russell, PhD

The Courts Catalyzing Change: Achieving Equity and Fairness in Foster Care Initiative (CCC) is a multidisciplinary effort to reduce the disproportionate representation of children of color and to reduce the disparate treatment they and their families can experience in the child welfare system. To work toward this goal, the CCC Preliminary Protective Hearing Benchcard was developed as a decision-making tool that asks judges to reflect on the decision-making process to protect against institutional bias and to consider some key inquiries, analyses, and decisions relating to removal, placement, and services. In 2009, the Honolulu Child Victims Act Model Court began implementing the CCC initiative and partnered with the Permanency Planning for Children Department (PPCD) of the NCJFJC to assess disproportionality in Honolulu’s child welfare system and any potential mitigating effects from Benchcard use.

This assessment builds upon previous research to explore the effects of Benchcard implementation in Honolulu, Hawai’i, a NCJFCJ Child Victims Act Model Court since 1997. This report presents baseline findings related to court practice and data trends in the year prior to Benchcard implementation. Further analyses of child welfare disproportionality and court practice in the period following Benchcard implementation are forthcoming.

Summary of Findings

·    More allegations were listed against mothers than against fathers. More presenting problems were also listed against mothers than against fathers.

·    The most common allegations were threat of harm and “other” (e.g., inability to care for child, lack of sole custody, etc.)

·    The most common presenting problems for mothers were substance abuse (50%) and “other” (39%).

·    For fathers, the most common presenting problems were criminal activity (43%), domestic violence (35%) and substance abuse (35%).

·    In general, adjudication, first review, and permanency planning hearings were conducted in a timely fashion, but 25%, 40%, and 28%, respectively, occurred late.

·    The majority of parents were not found by the court to be in compliance with the court-ordered case plan at the review or permanency hearings.

·    Mothers and their attorneys were present more often in court than fathers and their attorneys.

·    Service plans were not ordered by the court for 78% of children.

·    Mothers tended to be ordered more services than fathers. The most common services for mothers and fathers were psychological evaluations, parenting classes, and drug and alcohol assessments.

·    At temporary foster custody hearings, ICWA inquiries were made in 80% of cases, while ICWA findings were made in 26% of cases.

For the full report please click here.  

News Category: