Present: Judge Sonja Clapp, Chair Connie Portscheller Judge David Reich Paul Ronningen Dave McGeary Cheryl Kulas
Absent Robin Huseby Judge Doug Mattson Judge Dan Narum Peter Welte Dennis Herbeck
Staff: Louie Hentzen Lee Ann Barnhardt
Judge Clapp, called the meeting to order. She asked for comments on the minutes from
November 2, 2007, meeting. Paul Ronnigen moved to approve the minutes; Dave McGeary
seconded. Minutes approved.
Data Collections Sub-Committee. Paul Ronningen, Chair. It has been
determined by this sub-committee that there are 9 measures of data to collect. Data elements will
be collected from the courts to look at different issues of timeliness, permanency, safety and due
process. Over the next couple of weeks Louie, Lee Ann and Paul will look at writing an RFP to
hire a researcher to help facilitate capturing the information to see how we are doing on these
different time lines. This will take some work between the Supreme Court and the Department
of Human Services to gather information on how a case processes from point A to closure. A lot
of time was spent on the entire issue of continuances, the granting of those continuances, and
which parties have asked for them: to make sure that the process of timeliness of child welfare
cases is maintained or tracked. The RFP process is to have a researcher assist in capturing the
data and reporting back to C.I.P. on what is found in base line trends along these different data
measures. Two items of discussion are: 1. FCI (Fostering Court Improvement) Jumpstart to the Toolkit, which identifies
the 9 core measures for the courts. 2. Items that will be tracked:
a. - Child Safety while under court jurisdiction b. - Child Safety After release from court jurisdiction c. - Achievement of Child permanency d. - Number of Judicial Officers Per Case e. - Service of Process to Parties f. - Time to Permanent Placement g. - Time to Adjudication h. - Time to first Permanency Hearing i. - Time to Termination of Parental Rights
Paul stated the sub-committee has involved two staff. One is from the courts and one is
from the Department of Human Services. They are aware of the data that is needed. There are
larger projects within state government on master client indexes to identify the clients that come
into the systems. Data will be dumped into a warehouse and then collected. The Feds are really
pushing hard to get outcomes. There is a Child and Family Services review with about 30 Feds
in the state the week of April 21, 2008. They will be looking at the data and will also interview
families, courts, schools and others to grade our child welfare system. Paul has extended an
invitation to the CIP committee to sit in on the exit conference which will be broadcasted via
IVN to all regional human service centers. This exit conference will give exactly what the Feds
are looking for from the child welfare system and the partners. The exit interview is scheduled
for April 25, 2008 at 2:00p.m. The federal sites visited with be Cass, Burleigh, Morton and
The timeline to start the RFP process to find an individual will be the Spring of this year.
Lee Ann Barnhardt will be applying again for the same three grants which will be due on June
30, 2008. The expectation is that the grants will be submitted to the Administrative Council for
their approval by May 30th, 2008. This committee will be informed as to the RFP process and
who is hired.
Louie stated the new case management system will handle different modules. Most
vendors realize they need to have this type of information and are required to do this in other
jurisdictions in other states. It may mean changing some operations to ensure that the
information gets into the system. It may end up being clerical. Case information systems only
count cases filed. For juvenile court people, none of that information is in the case management
system and is a completely separate case management system for juveniles
Paul shared they are inputting that data into the CC WIPS system and SPOC system now.
Part of the conversation will be how to take already existing data and marriage it up with the
Louie stated this document handed out talks about the outcomes that are expected in the 9
core measures. Trouble is that Congress sets these conditions on the grant application and every
year something new is added. All but one state have applied for the data grant. CIP will be
getting $100,000 for this grant and the amount of work is not well worth the effort since a court
improvement specialist is not paid out of the grant monies. Other states have entire departments
and they use the basic grant money to fund their coordinator and clerical staff. Our basic grant
money goes to UND for the administration of our lay GAL project. The GAL project had an
evaluation done and the recommendations of the evaluation have been referred to the Court
Services Committee chaired by Justice Kapsner. One of the recommendations was how future
funding of the lay GAL project be considered. Someone has indicated that the cost that UND
charges for the administration of that program go in the general fund request of the budget then
use the $100,000 from the Feds on the grant to do something differently.
GAL Sub-Committee. - Dave McGeary, Chair. Dave reported the GAL sub-committee
have met on January 24, 2008 and February 21, 2008. At this point, there has been progress on
the GAL rule. Initially, the GAL rule was put together by Lanny Serrano and Brad Swenson and
they would try to establish GAL as parties to actions and then being represented by counsel. This
is now the third draft and hasn't been reviewed by the Juvenile Policy Board. However, it is on
the agenda for discussion.
Louie handed out the Draft Rule for Lay GAL's which is the latest draft that was
furnished to Mike Hagburg who is the rule expert for the court and Mike is working with the
Juvenile Policy Board currently and trying to select juvenile court procedural rules because there
are none right now. They basically operate under the rules of civil procedure. Judge Reich is on
the Juvenile Policy Board and they met last month and it was suggested to take this up at the next
meeting due to lack of time. A recommendation will be made to the Administrative Council and
they will forward the recommended procedural rules to the Joint Procedure Committee, which is
the rule committee. The way it was drafted was to try and get everything into this rule and is
designed following the GAL rule in domestic cases which is 8.7 of the Rules of Court. They
took some of the language from the Custody Investigator rule and merged it into this particular
rule as well as looking at the rule from Minnesota. In the back of this hand out there is an
Appendix A for a code of conduct for lay GAL which is in the Custody Investigator rule.
Dave stated one thing to report is that the most discussion at the last meeting was the
ability of the GAL to be able to put a case back before the court if in fact they felt some things
were not being done by the case manager. The questions arise as how to do that if they are not
part of the action. It was felt that if they sent a letter to the referee or judge, then the court could
request it. This is under section 4E the rights and powers of the lay GAL which have the right to
request the review of the status of the case before the court as appropriate to the best interest of
the child. We could tailor that language to set up a process that they could accomplish.
ICWA sub-committee - Dennis Herbeck, Chair. The ICWA sub-committee met on
November 7, 2007 and January 28, 2008. The November meeting was an organization meeting.
There was a meeting in conjunction with the ICWA conference at the Seven Seas in Mandan and
the issues for discussion were the compliance issue, the access to juvenile court files, procedural
compliance, and the effort to ask DHS to include procedures on ICWA requirements in their best
practice manual. This was discussed with Paul Ronningen and the committee wanted more
direction from DHS.
Paul stated that DHS would like to include ICWA requirements in a written manual for
foster care to have the manual be a best practice manual. He will make sure that when the
Federal Review is complete, that the ICWA requirements are clearly laid out within the context
of the current manuals of DHS.
Judge Clapp picked up a quick references manual in Washington, D.C. that may be
helpful. This will be forwarded to Dennis Herbeck for feedback.
The membership of the committee could extend an invitation to a committee member out
of the Division of Children and Family Services as a liaison for making sure the best wishes of
that committee is met; someone with more knowledge of the manuals themselves as they
currently exist and to be able to work with that committee and making the adjustments to the
manual so that expectations are clear regarding ICWA compliance. Suggestion of the liaison
would be Don Snyder from foster care.
Dave McGeary questioned the funds for expert witnesses and who is paying for them
Louie answered that the counties are required to at this time. This has been an issue and
Cheryl Kulas has tried to work with the tribes to identify who the expert witnesses are. The
problem with this is the state treats them as any witness, therefore they do not pay them the same
as qualified expert witnesses in other types of litigation. Those kinds of witnesses get paid high
dollars to appear in litigation. The parties pay for that in civil litigation, but in this case with the
situation with the state paying the witness fees, there is some concern and some discussion
brought forth by Theresa Snyder and Tara Muhlhauser.
Judge Clapp stated the issue with paying expert witnesses is that they vary greatly and
sums from $5,000 to $10,000 dollars. She stated that funding is a huge issue.
Dave McGeary shared that Burleigh County has had expert witnesses from Standing
Rock and have appeared in some cases and Burleigh County Social Services is paying that cost.
They are concerned because they were paying some high prices. He stated that some expert
witnesses in these cases are submitting affidavits with the recommendations, but that sometimes
it doesn't work because defense counsel wants the ability to cross examine the witness.
Connie will visit with Dennis to survey State's Attorney's to see what they pay for
qualified expert witnesses.
The next meeting of the ICWA sub-committee is April 10, 2008 in Fort Berthold. Kathy
Felix the ICWA worker from the Three Affiliated Tribes will be hosting the meeting.
Education sub-committee - There is a save the date notice out for the ND Children's
Justice Symposium. The Court Improvement Committee is a sponsor along with the ND
Supreme Court and the Children's and Family Services Division of the ND Department of
Human Services. The symposium will be conducted every other year. Expected to attend are
judges, referees, juvenile officers, social service representatives and DHS representatives.
National speakers are being lined up and Lee Ann Barnhardt has been working with Tara
Muhlhauser and Pete Tunseth from the UND Training Center to put on the symposium.
Education Report - Discussed is the attorney training: state's attorneys, defense
attorneys, judges and referees who have gone to some training. The GAL scholarships: 5
attended the ICWA conference and that there will be another GAL state wide training at the end
of the symposium. Last year there were approximately 25-30 GAL's from across the state in
attendance, which was very well received. This committee contributed $10,000 to the
Regional Child Welfare workshops that were conducted were in Minot, Dickinson, Grand
Forks and Valley City. These were very well attended. They are set up for this year and will be
regional again, with locations in Williston, Bismarck, Fargo and Devils Lake.
Identified were the money spent for the ICWA speakers and the travel expenses. It
indicates the evaluations were positive and in the good and excellent range. Lee Ann has a list of
the future workshops as far as the topics concerned on her report. The upcoming events are
listed at the bottom: Children's Justice Symposium in Bismarck. Court Improvement will
sponsor this symposium and conduct it every other year. The GAL training is at the end of the
symposium and then the regional workshops for 2008 will be announced.
The symposium is July 22-24th, 2008. Because this conference is free of charge, this will
be filling up fast. Paul states that they are very appreciative of the courts and the grant to bring
this type of resource to North Dakota to allow the stretching of CIP dollars and to bring in the
quality of trainers that are coming to the symposium.
Speakers at the symposium are:
Carol Williams who has been to North Dakota and is the head official with ACF, the
Administration for Children and Family, and is a dynamic individual speaker. She has been in
the social service arena for decades.
James Garbarino who is an expert in family violence and trauma for kids more on the
placement and treatment side when there has been issues of domestic violence and children
exposed to violence that end up in the foster care system. He is also doing a keynote and a
workshop on trauma in school settings and how that impacts the school atmosphere.
Carol Spigner addresses child development issues and disproportionality and placement.
In North Dakota there is a higher number of Native American children in care than what the state
Mark Washington will be doing a keynote in the evening on mental health issues.
Judge Byars is on systems and institutional change. He uses a paradigm shift model to
talk about what we all need to do differently and he is a former district judge.
Judge Jorgenson will be teaching on social workers testifying and using expert witnesses.
Some of the staff and advisors will be teaching as well.
There will be approximately six workshops running at the same time throughout the
symposium. We will be closing with Voices of North Dakota. This is a group of adults who
have been abused as children and they will share their stories. There will also be a two sister
team who will close with their abuse story.
The ABA will be conducting the ethics piece from their judicial division and will be
doing another workshop geared for attorneys. We will try to get the agenda out for the
symposium electronically as soon as it is complete. Registration will start in May. There will be
no lunches available so lunch will be on your own. There will be a brunch on the last day. Lee
Ann stated most of the workshops will run approximately 90 minutes. Some will go three hours
as a Part I and Part II basis.
Paul would like to send the invitation out to the Denver Regional Office and include them
Interstate Compact - Louie handed out the requirements of the next grant application.
First handout is from Emily Cooke who is the special assistant for Court Improvement for the
Children's Bureau. She made reference to a conference call that was held this week which Louie
participated in. The interpretation of what is required is different than what other states have
been doing. His understanding is that we are required the first year to assess the current
situation in the state and by doing that the first task was to identify any statutory language or any
rule language that would impede the expedited process of these interstate compact placements.
He thought the second year was to make the recommendations. The other states are making the
recommendations with this particular grant application. Louie has discussed the summary with
Staff Attorney Jim Ganje and Clerk of Court Penny Miller. There is a rule in North Dakota
called Pro Hoc Vice, admission and registration of non- resident attorneys. According to this
rule, a non resident attorney may occasionally be permitted to appear as counsel in an action in
trial court of this state or before and administrative agency or tribe.
Social Services is required now to do relative searches on all children who they take into
foster care. What happens if a set of grandparents, living in Georgia, didn't know anything about
the child being deprived in North Dakota and they contact them, want to intervene in some
fashion to be looked at as a possible guardian or adoptive parents and they employ an attorney to
represent them at this hearing in these matters. Connie stated the rule requires it. Louie asked if
it is a barrier or impediment to attaining the expedited process of these placements in out of state
placements. Connie states she thinks that social services would tell them they have that option of
hiring local counsel. Louie asked if the grandparents would be represented by counsel. Connie
answered "no" because of the rule. Judge Clapp stated that this is a common rule in any state
not just North Dakota.
Louie asked Connie if she allows people to appear by phone? Connie stated she does as
long as it is okay with the parties. Louie stated what he understands is that the biggest delay in
this process is the home study that needs to be done in the receiving state. It is hard to get the
social service people interested enough to do North Dakota's work when they have their own
work to do. Connie stated "absolutely" and you can't place the interstate compact without our
approval and setting.
What Louie plans to do is send out a survey on survey monkey to district court judges and
referees to respond to this matter. Louie states that the district judges may hear these types of
cases. He will do a judicial officers survey, a county director survey and an interview with Deb
Petrie from the Interstate Compact office.
Grant Status - Now that CIP is under the Administrative Council, there are a few
hoops to jump through in order to get the grants out. Fortunately, all of these grants are on the
renewable cycle now versus last year. The requirements are a little different and it is more of an
updating of the plan.
Lee Ann asked that each of the sub-committees to meet by May 1, 2008, review the
strategic plan that corresponds with their work and let Lee Ann know if they need to change
anything within that plan. The one that is difficult is that there isn't an ICWA grant, but the
ICWA items are woven in throughout so that you have to look at all three of the strategic plans to
make sure if it is in the education or basic grant. Lee Ann will send out electronic copies of those
plans to the chairs for them to distribute. It should be a fairly easy process besides the Interstate
Compact things. The next Administrative Council meeting is May 30, 2008 and Louie will take
the plans to the meeting for their acknowledgment. The grants are due June 30, 2008. Lee Ann's
plan with the education grant needs to be rearranged a bit as money isn't being spent in some
areas as others. The other grants don't have much of a budget factor except the data collection
and analysis grant. Lee Ann will write a report for each of these grants, which are due in
December. When the Federal fiscal year is over, Lee Ann will request to have a report submitted
at that point of what has been accomplished in connection with the things agreed upon before
submitting the reports to the Administrative Council. With the reports that are being submitted
by the sub-committee's, the annual report to the government is much easier as the format will
already be established.
A motion was made by Connie Portscheller to adjourn meeting and seconded by Paul
Ronningen. Motion carried.
Next CIP meeting scheduled for July 21, 2008 1:00p.m. Ramkota Hotel, Bismarck, Room 2160