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Research Report: Assessing Time-Certain Calendaring Dockets

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There is not one nationally utilized method of calendaring dependency court cases. Rather, there are four common calendaring methods used to schedule these case types. These include (1) Block time, (2) Time-certain, (3) Combination of block and time-certain, and (4) so-called “Cattle calls.” The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) Resource Guidelines strongly recommends that all dependency hearings be set for time-certain calendaring. Time-certain calendaring can help reduce wait times to 20 to 60 minutes for parents, children, and court stakeholders (e.g., CASA and agency attorney). This reduction in wait time can, potentially, allow for more cases to be heard, decreased workload for dependency stakeholders, and decreased additional stressors (e.g., loss of work days) for families.

The current study focuses on the Travis County Model Court for Children and Families. Because Travis County has implemented time-certain calendaring for over a decade, it was chosen to examine the timeliness and efficiency of such a calendaring system from the perspective of its consumers. The purpose of this study was two-fold. First, the study assessed efficiency of time-certain calendaring. Second, perceptions of court calendaring system were assessed via parents and court stakeholder surveys. Results indicate primarily positive perceptions of stakeholders and parents regarding this calendaring system.

Research Evidence Classification: Emerging

The practice of time certain calendaring in dependency cases was evaluated in terms of the relationship to stakeholder perceptions of efficiency and parent perceptions of fairness and satisfaction. In accordance with the NCJFCJ Policy Statement on Evidence of Effectiveness, time certain calendaring has been classified by NCJFCJ research staff as Emerging using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Continuum of Evidence of Effectiveness, specifically as it relates to the outcomes identified above.