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Children's Justice Statewide Collaboration 


Flow Chart 


Iowa Supreme Court 

The seven-member Iowa Supreme Court has many important responsibilities.  The court is the highest court in the Iowa state court system.  It reviews decisions of lower courts and its decisions shape and define the law for lower courts to follow.  In addition to its adjudicatory function, the court oversees the administration of Iowa's state court system.  This administrative role includes responsibility for the Judicial Branch budget and for promulgating all rules of procedure used throughout the state's court system.  Finally, the Supreme Court serves a regulatory function.  The court's primary regulatory function is the licensing and disciplining of lawyers who practice law in Iowa.  


Iowa Judicial Council 

The Iowa Judicial Council is composed of the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the chief judge of the court of appeals and the chief judge of each of Iowa's eight judicial districts.  The council advises the Supreme Court with respect to the administration of Iowa's court system.    


Children's Justice Advisory Committee 

Federal regulations require the formation of a multi-disciplinary committee to provide advice and feedback to the Judicial Branch regarding the implementation of the Court Improvement Project (CIP) grants.  The Supreme Court formed the Court Improvement Project Oversight Committee to perform this function.  This committee will be renamed and reconstituted as the Children's Justice (CJ) Advisory Committee.  As always, the Supreme Court retains decision-making authority in those areas in which it has responsibility under federal and state statutes and regulations. 


Role of Advisory Committee 

Possibilities for the role of the Advisory Committee include:  


1)   Provides recommendations in the development of the strategic plan for the basic grant;  

2)   Reviews for acceptance or modification the strategic plans developed by the Training Steering Committee and the Data Steering Committee;  

3)   Approves the final applications of all three grants for presentation to State Court Administration and the Supreme Court for submission to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, The Children's Bureau; 

4)   Requests formation of task forces and work groups to address issues of improvement needed in the court process; 

5)      Recommends to the Supreme Court rule changes, legislative changes or procedural changes that would improve timeliness, due process or otherwise improve the court process; 

6)   Forwards issues that require involvement of state agencies or other state wide organizations to the State Children's Justice Council with recommendations for action; and    

7)      Recommends priorities for CIP funds  

8)   Manage mini-grant process for district teams including development of guidelines for application, reviewing proposals, awarding mini-grants, and reviewing progress.  

9)   Review assessment results, identifying court process issues that have statewide implications, develop recommendations for addressing areas needing improvement, through task force formation, legislative change, rule change, practice change, referral to state council for higher level action. For instance, the results of assessments might show that quality of representation in the court room might be a consistent area needing improvement.  The advisory committee might request formation of a work group to look at improving quality of representation.    


The workgroup might involve looking at judicial leadership, developing clear expectations and guidelines and distributing the guidelines to all attorneys who serve in juvenile court, or developing standards of representation and recommending adoption of those standards by the Supreme Court, all of which are under the court's purview.  Work groups would be multi-disciplinary, including many of the child welfare stakeholders, those who are directly related and those who might be impacted by change in practice or policy. 


The advisory committee might also identify that there are cross agency barriers to maintaining foster youth in their home schools.  This type of multi-agency barrier would be referred to the State Council through Children's Justice staff for consideration and discussion, since it involves the need for state level collaboration and multiple agencies such as DHS, foster parents, Education, private agency providers and even transportation companies to address the issue.  The state council could then form a work group to address this issue or decide not to address the issue at that time.  


Children's Justice State Council 

The Children's Justice State Council would be made up of representatives, appointed by the Supreme Court, from those organizations that are involved in the child welfare system and those organizations that might be impacted by systemic change initiated by this group.  It would address issues brought to the council by one of its members or referred to the council by CJ staff, CJ Advisory Committee or the State Court Administrator.  If the matter before the council requires action such as a legislative change, funding, etc., the council would make a recommendation to the Children's Justice Cabinet for action.  The council would also have the option to make recommendations to one of its member organizations when action by that organization would adequately address the matter. They also could enact their own work group made up of members or add others as appropriate to address a specific problem.  For instance, sometimes there are difficulties with competing releases of information which prevents families from getting the services they need timely. For instance this might happen across Dept. of Public Health, HIPPA regulations, mental health and DHS, which prevents the most accurate information to be available from all in a timely manner to develop an effective case plan or to get parents into treatment in order to address the issues preventing them from safely and effectively parenting their children.  The state council could discuss this issue and ask that a work group be formed of the related member agencies to address this topic to develop a solution to the complex regulations around sharing of information to assure that families can get timely service.  It is also possible that the State Council could see the Advisory Committee as a knowledgeable resource that could provide information or feedback to the State Council.  They might also refer an issue for the Advisory Committee to act on or consider addressing. 


Children's Justice Cabinet 

This group is composed of state officials with decision and/or policy making authority, invited by the chief justice to participate in addressing system-wide issues that affect dependency cases.  In addition to the chief justice, membership would include the director of the Department of Human Services, the Attorney General, the directors of the Departments of Education and Public Health, and the State Public Defender.  Participation of these persons in any particular decision would depend on the nature of the issue under consideration.  Other persons may be included in the discussion and resolution of an issue that involves such person's interests, including the chief justice of the Meskwaki Tribe. 


Children's Justice District Teams 

Members of the District Teams will be appointed by the chief judge of the judicial district.  CJ staff would be the primary contact for the District Teams, to provide consultation, technical assistance, and possible resources.  The district teams are Judicial Branch driven, with judicial leaders being held responsible by the Supreme Court for the teams' functioning.   The teams will assist the chief judges and the Judicial Council in achieving the required compliance with federal guidelines and will serve as a vehicle for on-going communication both within the district and back to the state.  


Leadership of the district teams will notify CJ staff as issues are identified as having state-level relevance or needing state-level action.  When state level relevance is identified, CJ staff and the State Court Administrator will determine if the issue needs judicial attention or is more appropriate for consideration by the permanent Children's Justice State Council.    


If it is determined that it is a judicial issue, it will go to the CJ Advisory Committee, the CJ Training Steering Committee, CJ Data Steering Committee, or directly to State Court Administration or the Judicial Council.    


If the issue is multi-faceted or directly related to another state organization, it would be referred to the Children's Justice State Council for discussion, consideration, work group formation, etc.   


Other Complementary Statewide Collaborative Group 


The Department of Human Services Division of Child and Family Services and the Iowa Judicial Branch created the Child and Family Services Stakeholder Panel in order to more actively elicit input from a diverse group of Iowa citizens and organizations that have a stake in the child welfare system.  The Stakeholder Panel includes over 60 members representing consumers, the Court, legal representatives, DHS, providers, public interest groups, and state and community partners.  The Panel provides consultation related to DHS and Court initiatives, as well as the state's Child and Family Service Plan and the Child and Family Services Review.  Division and the Court retain decision-making authority in those areas in which they have responsibility under federal and state statutes and regulations. 



CJ: 8/07 






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