Courts to improve practices in child abuse and neglect cases
The NCJFCJ selected 11 new state and tribal courts to join the organization’s Implementation Sites Project, which helps to improve outcomes for abused and neglected children and their families.
The NCJFCJ Implementation Sites Project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, provides state and tribal child abuse and neglect courts with training, technical assistance, and support to guide program improvement, sustainability, and performance.
As part of their involvement in this project, Implementation Sites make system improvements, evaluate progress, and share challenges and successes with other courts across the country. The Implementation Sites will integrate promising practices, as defined by the NCJFCJ’s Enhanced Resource Guidelines: Improving Court Practices in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases, to guide their system reform efforts.
Every site will employ a team of stakeholders, guided by judicial leadership, to evaluate existing practices, define goals, and enact improvements aimed at enhancing the delivery of services to children and families.
The 11 new courts joining the project are:
- Washtenaw County (Michigan) Trial Court, led by Judge Tracy E. Van den Bergh
- Geary County (Kansas) District Court, led by Magistrate Amy Coppola
- Hall County Court—Nebraska, led by Judge Alfred E. Corey III
- 13th Judicial District Court of North Carolina, led by Judge Pauline Hankins
- Family Court of St. Louis County, Missouri, led by Judge Catherine Keefe
- Oklahoma County (Oklahoma) Juvenile Court, led by Judge Kaitlyn Allen
- Blount County (Tennessee) Juvenile Court, led by Judge Kenlyn Foster
- 15th Judicial Circuit of Florida (West Palm Beach) led by Judge Kathleen Kroll
- Portage County (Ohio) Juvenile Court, led by Judge Patricia J. Smith
- Harris County (Houston, Texas) 246th Family District Court, led by Judge Angela Graves-Harrington
- District Court for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, led by Judge Amy J. Pierce
“Families are experts in their own lives and it’s imperative that courts develop processes that engage and empower families to support their success,” said Melissa Gueller, NCJFCJ program director, child abuse and neglect.
The 11 courts will join 20 other current Implementation Project and Tribal Model Court sites across the country in the effort to ensure the safety, timely permanency, and well-being of families impacted by the child welfare system.
“Blount County Juvenile Court is delighted to be selected as an NCJFCJ Implementation Site,” said Judge Kenlyn Foster, Blount County Juvenile Court. “We welcome the opportunity to work with the NCJFCJ and with our community partners to better serve our families and to improve outcomes for abused and neglected children.”
“The Choctaw Nation consistently seeks ways to improve the lives of our children. We are committed to working with the NCJFCJ in order to assess our current case processing and handling techniques, and to develop a plan for further court improvement and the well-being of our children in our court system,” said Choctaw Nation District Court Judge Amy Pierce. “We are hopeful the skills, improvement practices, and collaborative lessons we learn in this project will assist not only the Choctaw Nation children, but that we can also share our knowledge with other tribes and state partners.”
“We are very grateful to have been chosen as an NCJFCJ Implementation Site — this assistance will make a significant positive impact in the lives of our youth,” said Judge Kathleen Kroll, 15th Judicial Circuit of Florida. “We are also impressed with the enthusiasm the juvenile division court partners have shown for this project and the desire of the NCJFCJ and the 15th Circuit to improve the lives of our youth who either enter independent living situations or extended foster care.“
“Hall County, Nebraska, is excited about becoming an NCJFCJ Implementation Site,” said Judge Alfred E. Corey III, Hall County Court. “This project will allow us to review how we handle abuse and neglect cases, and collaborate with stakeholders to create positive changes in our juvenile system.”