National organization to help court improve outcomes in child abuse and neglect cases
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has selected the Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Child Dependency Court as one of six new courts to join their 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 Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, provides 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 are expected to implement meaningful change, evaluate progress as well as share challenges and successes with other courts across the country.
“Tribal justice systems are growing and evolving to address to the needs and issues of tribal communities. It is vitally important that tribal courts continue to learn, benefit, and share information through the NCJFCJ’s Implementation Site Project,” said Nikki Borchardt Campbell, Executive Director of the National American Indian Judges Court Association.
The Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Child Dependency Court, in Juneau, Alaska, began last year through an extensive partnership with the Tribal and Youth Services and the State of Alaska Office of Children Services. In the last decade, the Tribe’s court system has grown quickly beginning with child welfare including child support and paternity cases. Recently, the Tribal court has begun to hear domestic violence protection orders, custody, divorce, guardianship, and adoption cases. The Tribal court is also developing a juvenile wellness court, focused primarily on early intervention and prevention for youth whom are at risk of being involved in the criminal justice system.
“Being a part of the NCJFCJ’s Implementation Sites Project will not only help grow and expand our Tribal court in the child welfare area of services, but would greatly benefit our court’s needs for technical assistance, practical tools, and collaborative assessment,” said the Honorable Debra O’Gara, lead judge of the project.
“We look forward to collaborating with the NCJFCJ to strengthen the court's infrastructure through data collection, forms and templates, staff training, and greater access to current research and trends in child and family needs to build up the infrastructure to handle the growing case load. I firmly believe that we have much to learn from the knowledge and experience of other judges and courts around the nation on how to best expand and improve the court’s outcomes for our children and families.”
A team from the NCJFCJ will travel to the court next month for an initial site visit, which include a variety of assessment activities including court observation, convening focus groups and collecting data for evaluation purposes, which help for a better understanding of the jurisdiction. With this crucial insight and vital input from those involved in the court process, an action plan will be created to assist the court in its court improvement journey.
About the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ):
Founded in 1937, the Reno, Nev.-based National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, is the nation’s oldest judicial membership organization and focused on improving the effectiveness of our nation’s juvenile and family courts. A leader in continuing education opportunities, research, and policy development in the field of juvenile and family justice, the 2,000-member organization is unique in providing practice-based resources to jurisdictions and communities nationwide.