The Court Improvement Project

The Court Improvement Project

In 1993, Congress passed the State Court Improvement Program (CIP) as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) which funded, among other things, States to conduct assessments of their judicial processes in juvenile cases and develop and implement a plan for system improvement.  The Nebraska Supreme Court contracted with UNL-Center on Children, Families and the Law (CCFL) to manage the Nebraska Court Improvement Project.  In 1995, the Nebraska CIP released an Assessment (with a Re-Assessment Report released in 2005).

In September 2005, Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice John Hendry directed that the Nebraska CIP initiate a statewide implementation of best court practices based on the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) Resource Guidelines through a statewide summit. The 2006 Nebraska Children's Summit Improving the Court System for Abuse/Neglect and Foster Care Children was held in Nebraska City, and was attended by over 200 stakeholders in the abuse/neglect court system.  By the end, team members had selected a new name for the project: Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative.

The Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative (TTEOC) was kicked off in 2006 with the creation of 25 multidisciplinary, judge-led teams that would work to identify local system issues and develop strategic plans to improve court processing in abuse and neglect cases in their communities.  Teams met regularly to address the issues identified in their plans.  Common issues included children's attendance at court hearings, availability of substance abuse services, adequacy of parenting time, use of mediation/facilitation, quality of court reports, among other things.  TTEOC staff provided technical assistance to local teams while work on policy changes on a statewide level related to barriers identified locally (projects include Parenting Time Guidelines, mediation protocols, a Caregiver Information Form, a Youth Court Questionnaire, standardized court order language).

In 2012, the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative was expanded to include a Juvenile Justice Court Improvement Project (JJCIP) through funding from the Office of Probation as part of LB 561.  The goals of the JJCIP are to assist implementing the juvenile justice reforms of LB 561 and improve the juvenile justice court and legal system, which includes improving legal representation, increasing family engagement and utilization of restorative justice processes, improving the timeliness and quality of court hearings and improving court data.

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