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1 Analyses of Court Processing of Child Protection Applications for Very Young Children Jeanette Lawrence Greg Levine Kirsty Bowness Hannah Biggins The.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Analyses of Court Processing of Child Protection Applications for Very Young Children Jeanette Lawrence Greg Levine Kirsty Bowness Hannah Biggins The."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Analyses of Court Processing of Child Protection Applications for Very Young Children Jeanette Lawrence Greg Levine Kirsty Bowness Hannah Biggins The University of Melbourne Children’s Court of Victoria funding by Australian Research Council Victoria Law Foundation

2 2 Attention focused on child protection Need for practitioner/researcher collaboration Studying court processing of protection applications Calls for evidence-based reform Concerns about good starts to life for young children

3 3 Attention Evidence-based Collaboration Studying court processing of protection applications Good start to life Protection, Secure, stable environments for children 0 to 47 months The court’s contribution about 6% come to court The court’s data-base Collaborative activities from start & throughout

4 4 Studying court processing of protection applications in 2 Steps (1) Finding (or creating) a suitable data base (2) Focusing analyses on appropriate questions and data

5 5 (1) Finding (or creating) a suitable data base Existing sources - What sources of information already exist? - What can you do with what’s there? the search may not be easy Creating new data sources - What data source do you need to construct? Making a data management system - Can you build on, supplement what’s there?

6 6 Existing sources - Finding computerised records used for other purposes - with enough data to analyse - adding data from court files - lots of cleaning and checking ? Questions to ask of the data: - Institutional questions? e.g., documenting court trends improving court processes - Developmental questions e.g., parental factors e.g., where is the child? Creating new data sources - mainly adding new variables from analyses Making a data management system - producing a procedural manual

7 7 Final Order: - Struck out - Parents’ undertaking - Supervision - Custody to Secretary - Guardianship to Secretary - Permanent Care Grounds for application: - abandoned - parent not available - physical harm - emotional or psych. harm - harm to dev. or health - sexual harm Court processing in hearings, contests, conferences Reasons for return: Breach Extension New application (210) Exit Court System (312) with “Exit Order” Protection Applications (522 in 2001) children aged mos Focusing analyses on appropriate questions and data

8 8 Differences in Form of First Final and Exit Orders

9 9 Protection applications for 522 children (0 to 47 mos) - 1st heard in court in exited the court system by Sept., 2005 Age: No difference in spread of ages for 262 boys, 260 girls In 1st year of life50% 2nd year18% 3rd year19% into 4th year13% Questions to ask of this system 1.HOW? Court processing of applications: What orders? How long - until Final Order? - until Exit from Court System? 2.WHY? Reasons: - for applications? - returns to Court System after Final Order? ?

10 10 What orders? A final order substantive order - determines: - if protection application proved - placement of the child - is first final order on file An exit order - was the final order for 60% - for 40% cases that return is last final order on file at Sept 2005 An interim order - Interim Accommodation Order (reviewed every 21 days) - Interim Protection Order (reviewed in 12 months)  Struck out, revoked withdrawn,  Undertaking by parents  Supervision  Custody  Guardianship  Permanent Care Intrusion

11 11 abandoned, pars unavail physical harmemotional, psych harm de’al, health harm Struck out (26% - 137) 10%80%93%22% Parents Undertaking (9% - 49) Supervision (38% - 199) Custody to Sec (20% - 102) Guardianship (5% - 26) Original grounds in relation to first final order + 9 for Permanent care

12 12 abandoned, pars unavail physical harmemotional, psych harm de’al, health harm Struck out (172) 3%79%94%24% Parents Undertaking (54) Supervision (168) Custody to Sec (40) Guardianship (38) Original grounds in relation to exit order Permanent care (50)

13 Months in Six Months Bands % Guardianship Custody Supervision Pars Undertaking Struck out Time to first final order % Months Time to exit order

14 14 Subsample of 80 Protection Cases Stratified RS (+ SD from Mean of Order) on length of time to exit the court system Is the protection application “proved” substantiated? Make a Court Order (with legal conditions) - for child’s protection and safety - for placement of the child Medium 18 7 to 23 mos Short 28 0 to 6 mos Long mos

15 15 ShortMediumLong No. hearings (Mean) 4.79 (2.63) (9.77) (11.03) Time between 1st & exit Order? (Mean months) 0.21 (0.69) 9.67 (11.91) (10.0) % return after 1st final order? 10.7%61.1%100% Change in 1st final to exit orders 3.6%27.8%82.4% Drugs involved in:39%44%77% What distinguishes between Short, Medium, Long Cases?

16 % ParentsRelativesCommunity care Placement with: Medium Short Long Where was the child placed - “finally by Sept. 2005”?

17 % GoodAveragePoor Stability Long Medium Short How stable was the child’s placement throughout?

18 18 In summary - for these most vulnerable children Time is important indicator Directions, processes, outcomes For rehab, reunification or permanent care Reasons for timing included Statutory regulations Changes in applications and Orders e.g., extensions, assessments e.g. parental agreement, acceptance of Department plans Returns to court Related to placement with parents

19 19 Implications Accessing and using sources of data - as evidence- base for: reflection collaborative talk (practitioner/researcher) change Existing data may not be large-scale - but is abasis for: - showing major trends - searching for the most appropriate next source e.g. computerised record -- then -- to intensive files As part of: - system improvement - policy decisions - cultural change - intervention strategies for families at the “top end”

20 20

21 21 4 Steps to Tracking Court Process and Case Flow Management 1.Develop base-line computerised records of court processes 2.Describe trends in processes 3.Fill out trends with qualitative information in archival files (e.g., reports, recommendations) 4.Identify patterns of routes through the court system for typical and atypical protection cases All 522 protection applications for children aged 0 to 47 months in a calendar year (2001) processed in the Family Division of the Melbourne Children’s Court

22 22

23 23 Guardianship Custody Supervision Struck out Parents’ Undertaking abandoned harm to development & health parents dead or unavailable emotional, psych, harm physical harm Final order Grounds Association of original grounds with final order

24 24 Parents' Undertaking Supervision Struck out Custody Permanent care Guardianship physical harm emotional, psych, harm abandoned or parents unavailable harm to development & health Exiting order Grounds Association of original grounds with last order On file - regardless of time to make that order

25 25 Months in Six Months Bands % Guardianship Custody Supervision Par Undertaking Struck out

26 26 Exit Interim Accomm. Struck Out Interim Protection Undertaking Supervision Custody Guardianship Permanent Care Application

27 % Permanent Care (9) Guardianship (25) Custody (101) Supervision (198) Undertaking (50) Struck out (141) First Final Order Percentage of First Final Orders Returning to Court System 0


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