Assessing the Long-Term Effects of Courts Catalyzing Change Preliminary Protective Hearing Benchcard

January 8, 2015

The Courts Catalyzing Change: Achieving Equity and Fairness in Foster Care Initiative (CCC) brings together judicial officers and systems stakeholders to set a national agenda for court-based training, research and reform initiatives to reduce the disproportionate treatment of children of color in the dependency court system.  One of the tools developed from this initiative was a Benchcard for judges to use at the first dependency court hearing (e.g., preliminary protective hearing).  Early research on the effectiveness of this tool indicated that judicial officers using the tool discussed more items at the hearings, had higher levels of inquiry, and better engaged parents in the process. Further, Benchcard users were more likely to place a child with a parent or relative at early hearings compared to stranger foster care. Complete findings from the early study can be found here.

This report examines the long-term effects of the CCC Benchcard on placement decisions and case outcomes in child abuse and neglect cases. Key findings from the study demonstrate that the CCC Benchcard has little effect on later court hearings or case outcomes. This may illustrate a need for continued use of similar Benchcards at subsequent hearings to ensure the same levels of inquiry, discussion, and engagement.  A complete summary of all research findings, conclusions, and next steps in the CCC Benchcard research can be found in the full report.