A recently released publication by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) shows how best-practice decisionmaking programs have successfully enhanced outcomes
for children and families in dependency court proceedings. Funded through OJJDP's Model Dependency Courts initiative, the publication, The Model Court Effect: Proven Strategies in Systems' Change, presents data demonstrating that Model Courts can
reduce the numbers of children in foster care, increase adoptions, improve compliance with timelines for permanency hearings, reduce costs, and eliminate barriers between systems and agencies working for children and families.
The Model Dependency Courts initiative encompasses a network of juvenile and family courts in 31 States and the District of Columbia that collaborate to enhance court processes and help children in foster care find permanent homes. Drawing on NCJFCJ's best-practices books Resource Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases and Adoption and Permanency Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases as guides to systems reform, the project identifies impediments to timely court practices and delivery of services to children in care and their families as a prelude to designing and implementing strategies that address those barriers. With technical assistance and training from NCJFCJ's Permanency Planning for Children Department, such innovative practices are tested and refined as part of ongoing systems change.
Following are just a few examples of improvements in the juvenile justice system brought about through Model Courts:
Legal Professionals Testify to the Success of Model Courts
Following are just a few of the testimonies to the effectiveness of Model Courts cited in The Model Court Effect:
"Nothing has been more beneficial in maintaining an unwavering focus and effectively pursuing permanency and the best interest of children in the dependency system than the serious commitment to implement Model Court best practice initiatives."
"Being a Model Court takes best practices off the pages of books and breathes life into them."
"The Model Court project has given me the opportunity to come together with a group of committed and dedicated people to share frustration and to learn. It provides a source of support and numerous resources that can assist in problem-solving and developing new ideas and programs."
Judge Ernestine Gray
New Orleans (LA) Model Court