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April 2002Vol. 3, No. 3Children's Bureau Awards Contract to Study Court Improvement Program

The Children's Bureau awarded an 18-month contract to James Bell Associates to determine the feasibility of evaluating activities and strategies developed under the Court Improvement Program (CIP). Congress authorized CIP in 1993 with the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, and again in 1997 with the Adoption and Safe Families Act, based on the lack of resources and organizational capacity to meet Federal requirements by courts handling child protection cases. The Children's Bureau annually awards CIP grants to the highest court of each State to develop and implement performance-improvement strategies for State courts and their responsibilities under Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.

The main objectives of this contract are to:

  • Identify a set of national promising CIP activities and strategies
  • Determine if a full-scale evaluation would produce information of interest based on criteria applied to these activities and strategies
  • Identify CIP programs conducting these activities and strategies that are agreeable to a full-scale evaluation
  • Develop an evaluation design and plan for full-scale evaluations of selected CIP programs.

The Children's Bureau created a technical work group to assist James Bell Associates. Together they will:

  • Review materials and consult court experts to identify promising CIP activities
  • Develop a classification system based on activities and strategies and their objectives
  • Establish criteria to select CIP activities for the research
  • Visit selected CIP programs for interviews and review of data systems
  • Analyze and synthesize information from site visits.

Contract deliverables include an Evaluability Assessment Report based on site findings to guide a future national evaluation, and an Evaluation Design and Work Plan Report for programs to be included in a national evaluation and how the evaluations can address the Children's Bureau's research questions.

For more information about the contract, contact:

James Bell Associates
2111 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1120
Arlington, VA 22201

Related Items

Read an interview by Julee Newberger of Benton Foundation's Connect for Kids with Judge Ernestine Gray about her model juvenile and family court in New Orleans. (

Search the archives of the Children's Bureau Express for other articles on court improvement at