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June 2023Vol. 24, No. 5Measuring Court, Judicial, and Attorney Performance in Child Welfare Court Cases

Measuring and tracking the performance of various practices in the child welfare system is crucial to improving outcomes for children and families. To explore measurements in child welfare court settings, the Capacity Building Center for Courts conducted a resource review of the various performance review strategies used to assess courts, judges, and attorneys in child welfare cases. The resulting report, published in May of 2022, was designed to contribute to the development of performance measures for the Judicial, Court, and Attorney Measures of Performance project. It also contains useful information for child welfare court practitioners, researchers, and other child welfare professionals.

The report summarizes the types and range of measures currently used to study performance and the impact of performance on child welfare case outcomes, highlighting what is known and what research gaps exist. The materials reviewed include toolkits and documents, performance standards from national groups, federal laws and government guidance, and empirical evidence from peer-reviewed research. The literature review team identified six categories of court performance measurement:

  1. Legal and judicial context
  2. Practices
  3. Short-term outcomes that happen during hearings
  4. Intermediate outcomes that happen during the case
  5. Long-term outcomes that happen after case closure
  6. Cross-cutting themes

The report provides detailed summaries and key findings from each measurement category. It also provides information about subcategories of performance measurement. Writers note that there are still many unknowns regarding what specific structures and practices affect child and family outcomes.

More information is available in the report, Measuring Child Welfare Court Performance: Review of Resources.