West Virginia Judiciary

Court Improvement Program Board Projects

The Court Improvement Program and Division of Children and Juvenile Services conducts many projects designed to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families involved child welfare cases. Generally, there are two types of projects- those that are time limited and those that are ongoing.

Current Time Limited Projects

Missing From Care

Missing From Care sprung from the need to address the scope of runaway children in West Virginia. This project seeks remediation for children who abscond from home or placements for extended periods putting them at risk for trafficking and other forms of victimization. Currently, Division of Children and Juvenile Services staff are collecting information from children in placements who have a history of running. This information will be analyzed for trends and potential interventions that can be implemented to protect children from the consequences of running by predicting who will run, and preventing them from doing so.

MDT Project

The MDT project focuses on quality hearings in juvenile proceedings. MDTs are crucial to juvenile cases and are prescribed in both legal code and agency policy. If the MDT is a quality meeting, then the proceeding court hearing will contain the necessary elements that indicate quality. These include all parties feel heard, the child’s safety is addressed, and most importantly, the Judge is provided the necessary information needed to make findings in the case. Currently, Division of Children and Juvenile Services staff are collecting data from a variety of professions involved in the MDT process. These perspectives will be compared and will drive the next phase of the project. The second phase will include observation and data collection on MDTs and the subsequent court hearing. It is expected data collected will reveal a correlation between quality MDTs and quality hearings. Both are important to helping children reach permanency.

Ongoing Projects

New View

The New View Project began in 2013 and is modeled after the Georgia project titled “Cold Case.” This project utilizes “Viewers” to examine cases wherein children have lingered in state care and have experienced multiple placements. Viewers look at these cases through fresh eyes and search for recommendations that may assist the youth with reaching permanency. This is a joint project with the state child welfare agency and relies on the coordinated efforts of the court, the agency, and the child’s MDT.

Juvenile Abuse and Neglect Benchbook

The CIP supports annual updates to the Judicial Benchbook for Abuse and Neglect Proceedings that includes updates to Chapter 49 of the West Virginia Legal Code.

A "Child Protection and Law" class

This class, at the West Virginia University College of Law, was initially offered in the spring 2010 semester, and continues to be offered once a year. Adjunct professor Teresa Lyons, a long-time member of the Court Improvement Program Board, teaches it. Fresh out of law school, attorneys may be appointed to represent parents or children in child abuse and neglect cases, or they may do so as public defenders. It is the Supreme Court’s hope that the "Child Protection and the Law" course will prepare them for these important, unique advocacy roles.

Juvenile Abuse and Neglect Information System

This system, known as JANIS, was created to facilitate and expedite the handling of child abuse and neglect cases by efficiently generating the original petition, case orders, and motions. Further, JANIS captures important data on abuse and neglect cases that is used to inform CIP initiatives.