West Virginia Judiciary

Court Improvement Program Board Projects

The Court Improvement Program and Division of Children's Services carries out 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. All projects are funded with Court Improvement Program grant funds from the US Administration for Children and Families and through match funds from the Court. This is not an exhaustive list of projects carried out by CIP. Projects are driven by data collected and reviewed by the CIP and through research on emerging topics related to the field.

Current Time Limited Projects

Missing From Care

Missing From Care sprung from the need to address the scope of runaway foster 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's 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.

Hearing Quality

Research suggests that if certain indicators are present during child welfare hearings, the outcomes for the child and family are better. Indicators include presence and engagement of case parties and judicial inquiries that lead to findings that shepherd the child to permanency. In West Virginia all children involved in abuse and neglect cases participate in multi-disciplinary treatment teams (MDTs). These are held throughout the life of the case and can be critical in monitoring the child’s case and preparing the parties for the subsequent hearing. The CIP has a hearing quality project that focuses on the impact of the MDT on the subsequent hearing. The project seeks to find if the quality of the MDT reflects in the quality of the hearing. Currently, Division of Children's Services staff are collecting data directly from MDT and court observations. It is expected that the data 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.” Court Improvement Program (CIP) Field Coordinators examine cases referred by judges or their designee. These children are at risk of lingering in state care and have experienced multiple placements. CIP staff 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. The class is taught by adjunct professor Teresa Lyons, a long-time member of the Court Improvement Program Board. 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.