The mission of the State of Oklahoma’s Children’s Court Improvement Program is to assist the courts in their ability to improve the safety, permanence and well-being outcomes for children and families involved in the child welfare court system through support of improved prevention efforts; training on efficient and effective court practices; building the capacity for high quality legal representation that will encourage better family engagement; and providing continuous improvements to court technology.
Felice M. Hamilton
CIP Project Director
Tim Scott, MSW
CIP Juvenile Court Project Specialist
The State Court Improvement Program (CIP) was created as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation ACT of 1993. Section 438 of the Social Security Act authorized the CIP to fund three separate grants the highest state court of each state can apply for. Oklahoma received the first basic grant in 1996 to conduct assessments of the role, responsibilities and effectiveness of the state courts in carrying out laws relating to child welfare. The grant allows the state to make improvements to provide for the safety, permanence and well-being of children in foster care. The grants are used to provide computer technology and training for judges with juvenile dockets as well as other court related supports.
One of the major projects the basic grant supports is the Child Permanency Mediation (CPM) program. CPM is used for cases in the child welfare docket that appears to be legally stuck, when there’s a lack of parental engagement, or when decisions need to be made in regards to the child’s permanent placement. It allows the parents and all parties involved to sit together and have a conversation with a neutral third party regarding what’s “in the best interest of the child”
The data collection and analysis grant is used to promote data sharing between the state courts, child welfare agencies and tribes. As a requisite for receiving the data grant, CIP formed a collaborative group of multidisciplinary stakeholders. The group consist of leaders from DHS, tribes, the Dept of Education, Judges, attorneys, Dept of mental health and substance abuse services and others tasked with helping develop the strategic plan and assist in the implementation of the agency’s Program Improvement Plan (PIP) and Child and Family Services Review (CFSR).
This grant has been used to fund data analysis for the startup of the Parent Partner Program as well as supporting contracts to collect data relating to High Quality Legal Parent Representation Projects in the state.
The training grant is used to provide multidisciplinary “cross training” opportunities among the DHS, tribes, legal community, OJA and other entities with child serving responsibilities. Each year CIP offers a statewide multidisciplinary training event that allows the judges and attorneys to receive their mandatory continuing legal education juvenile credits without charge.
As of the new grant cycle starting FFY 2022, the three grants will be consolidated into a single grant that can be used for all program purposes.
The governing body for CIP is the Juvenile Justice Oversight and Advisory Committee (JJOAC). JJOAC is a committee comprised of nine judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma who are known as the juvenile court “experts” across the state. One of the activities of the JJOAC is to participate in the planning and use of all grant money including funds for court assessments, judicial education and multidisciplinary training, data collection/analysis, and technology enhancements for judges with juvenile docket responsibilities and make recommendations to the AOC Director and AOC supporting staff with juvenile responsibility.
The judges are appointed to three, two, or one- year rotating terms.
The 2021 judges on the JJOAC are:
|Honorable W. Mike Warren||Associate District Judge||Harmon County|
|Honorable Michael Flanagan||Associate District Judge||Cotton County|
|Honorable Brooke S. Gatlin||Associate District Judge||Washita County|
|Honorable Jason Seigars||Special Judge||Garfield County|
|Honorable Kaitlyn G. Allen||District Judge||Oklahoma County|
|Honorable Theresa Dreiling||Special Judge||Tulsa County|
|Honorable Rebecca Gore||Associate District Judge||Mayes County|
|Honorable Liz Brown||Associate District Judge||Adair County|
|Honorable Marion Fry||Associate District Judge||LeFlore County|
The Goals of Oklahoma’s Court Improvement Program (CIP) are:
- To help child welfare systems address the CFSR outcomes of Safety, Permanency and well-being
- To produce better outcomes for children and families that are tangible, measureable and time specific
- To allow courts to address fundamental problems by improving legal and judicial training and developing and improving court data systems