Present: Judge Sonja Clapp, Chair Judge Todd Cresap Robin Huseby Karen Kringlie Connie Portscheller Dale Rivard Bob Rutten Donna Wunderlich
Absent: Judge Richard Grosz Judge David Reich Scott Davis Tara Mulhauser
Staff: Louis Hentzen Lee Ann Barnhardt Catherine Palsgraaf (scribe)
Judge Clapp called the meeting to order. Judge Clapp welcomed Donna Wunderlich who is
replacing Dennis Herbeck on the committee. Ms. Wunderlich is Trial Court Administrator of
Unit 3, which includes the South Central and Southwest judicial districts.
Approval of June 13, 2012 Minutes A motion was made by Dale Rivard to approve the June 13, 2012 minutes. The motion was
seconded by Connie Portscheller, motion carried.
Continuous Quality Improvement Judge Clapp discussed that continuous quality improvement (CQI) is the theme for the CIP
committee. Ms. Barnhardt reported that she emailed the CIP strategic plan and a thorough report
of CIP outcomes and activities for the next four years.
Mr. Hentzen reported on the CQI message delivered during the CIP conference in Washington
D.C. on June 27-29, 2012. CQI is not just the requirement for federal CIP grant funds; CQI is
the requirement for all programs receiving federal dollars. Mr. Hentzen reminded the committee
of the decision to request rearranging allocation of the CIP basic grant, which is approximately
$98,000. Currently, the basic grant partially funds the administrative costs of the GAL project.
The committee decided some time ago to request that the court general budget include GAL
administrative costs and use the basic grant funds for quality assurance employees. The funding
request was approved by the Administrative Counsel to include in the budget request to the 63rd
Legislative Assembly. If the court budget is approved and the GAL administrative costs
included in the court budget, two part-time quality assurance employees will be employed to
track every deprivation case in North Dakota. Along with tracking, the two employees would
provide status of each case and updates as to timelines to judges, states attorneys, etc. The goal
is to positively impact timeliness, safety and other measures. Additional job duties would be
determined, with the primary responsibilities as tracking and providing updates. Salary has not
been decided and the full job description has not been determined by the state court
There was discussion about the types of responsibilities the quality assurance employees would
have, such as testifying, providing affidavits, and singling out individual cases that are not on
track. Mr. Hentzen explained that he does not see these employees testifying or providing
affidavits, rather they would monitor all open deprivation cases and provide reports to presiding
judges for conversations with the judge/referee responsible for cases that require attention.
Judge Clapp asked if this information is already available to presiding judges in docket currency
reports. Mr. Hentzen verified that this information is available in docket currency reports, but
has not been utilized to date. Ms. Barnhardt discussed that similar quality assurance models in
other states are working. The quality assurance employees are meant to take some of the burden
off North Dakota’s juvenile court employees who are not currently required to follow
deprivation cases. The quality assurance employees would provide services similar to case
management and could potentially recommend scheduling a hearing and provide courtroom
observation. DHS is also employing a QA person who could work with the court QA employees
to create a more efficient monitoring system. Ms. Kringlie asked if in the future it would be
possible to assign these cases to juvenile court officers. Ms. Barnhardt and Mr. Hentzen
responded that this is their preference, but additional staff would be required and would need to
be approved by the Legislature.
There was discussion about the QA employee primary focus on monitoring court processes in
deprivation cases, such as timeliness in scheduling and holding court hearings, lay GALs and
counsel appointment, lay GAL reports submission, etc. Most complaints concern the big picture,
such as delays in hearings. An internal monitoring process via QA employees would be a way to
determine where the delays are occurring.
Judge Clapp distributed a letter from Sally Holewa about budget overage concerns in the lay
GAL program. Ms. Hollewa’s suggested cut backs may create an issue for measuring GAL
effectiveness in the 2012-2016 CIP Strategic Plan. There was discussion about current GAL
quality monitoring and how the GAL program has been asked to spend more time on cases
without a corresponding increase in budget. Judge Clapp said she would like to send a response
to Ms. Hollewa indicating that the issue was discussed by the CIP Committee and given to the
GAL Sub-Committee to deal with.
Ms. Barnhardt said that if the addition of the lay GAL administrative costs to the judicial branch
general budget is approved by Legislature, the CIP strategic plan budget will need to be updated
in August 2013 to remove lay GAL administrative costs and add two quality assurance
GAL Sub-Committee – Robin Huseby, Chair. Ms. Huseby volunteered to be the new chair and
step down as chair of the Education Sub-Committee. Mr. Hentzen appointed Judge Reich to be
the new chair of the Education Sub-Committee.
ICWA Sub-Committee – Connie Portscheller, Chair. Ms. Portscheller reported that the sub-committee will meet once the vendor for the ICWA RFP is selected. The deadline for RFP
submission was August 31, 2012. Ms. Palsgraaf reported that two proposals were received, one
from the University of North Dakota Department of Social Work and one from KAT
Communications. The RFP was issued by the state court administrator’s office, so Mr. Hentzen
and Ms. Palsgraaf will make the decision. Mr. Davis asked to review and provide input during
the selection process. Ms. Portscheller asked if the decision process is on track to award the
contract by September 29, 2012. Mr. Hentzen responded in the affirmative.
Ms. Portscheller reported that Janet Kraker of Casey Family Services has emailed her asking
about the status of the CIP Committee decision to use the Casey Family ICWA court monitoring
tool. Ms. Portscheller described the ICWA checklist for compliance that is meant to be
completed by the judicial officer. Mr. Hentzen explained that the goal is to get the compliance
information in the benchbook.
Education Sub-Committee – Judge David Reich, Chair. Ms. Barnhardt reported that the
Children’s Justice Symposium was held July 2012 and was the third Children’s Justice
Symposium funded by CIP. DHS held the conference and CIP education grant money funded
one of the plenary speakers. 434 people attended the symposium and Ms. Barnhardt can make
the evaluations available to committee members on request. Overall, the symposium was one of
the best received and included the best evaluations from a conference. The ICWA speaker had
very good evaluations. Focus of the symposium was tied to timeliness, educational stability,
mental and physical health and well being. Conference outcomes will be tied to regional
reviews conducted after July 2012 to determine impact on measures.
GAL Training was held the day and half directly following the Children’s Justice Symposium.
Training covered 18+ foster care, sexual offenders, TPR panel discussion, adoption process, and
diagnosis and appropriate medication. Approximately 34 GALs attended. The GAL Program
Director and Supervisor discussed with Ms. Barnhardt the possibility of making attendance at
this training mandatory for all GALs. They discussed the factors and considerations of making
training mandatory. Would mandatory attendance be a YCC condition of employment or
required by rule, like parenting investigators. Who would track compliance and what are the
consequences of not attending. Currently, this training is provided free of charge to GALs
through CIP education grant funds, but expenses are not covered. If this training became
mandatory, expenses would need to be covered and this is not included in the GAL Program
budget or authorized by court administration. For now, this training will remain a voluntary,
annual event and CIP will pay for the training through CIP education grant funds, but will not
KAT Communications is nearing completion on programming an optional certificate of
completion into the mandated reporter training. The certificate is optional because it is not
required for all who take the training. Once the programming is complete, usage can be tracked.
The downside is there are more mandated reporters so the number of reports may increase.
The annual ICWA conference is February 20-22, 2013. Ms. Barnhardt serves on the ICWA
conference planning committee. Three planning meetings have been held and she is on the
agenda to continue to talk about including multiple sessions about the law.
The 2012-2016 CIP Strategic Plan does not include funding for out of state training. Out of state
training was included in previous strategic plans, but eliminated for 2012-2016 because of the
inability to track and measure. All funds previously designated for out of state training will be
put into judicial training.
During the fall and winter of 2012 Ms. Barnhardt would like to bring the referees together to talk
about issues and cases. This is in the planning stage. Ms. Barnhardt will continue to hold
judicial training. The June 2012 training was on how to handle testimony from caregivers and
other interested parties.
Ms. Barnhardt asked if some CIP funds will be used for the upcoming caseload conference. Mr.
Hentzen responded that most of the funding for the caseload conference will come from funding
for a conference that was not held.
Data Collection and Analysis Sub-Committee – Karen Kringlie, Chair. Ms. Wunderlich was
added as a member of the Sub-Committee. Ms. Kringlie reported that the sub-committee met at
end of June 2012 and reviewed a sample of a continuance report. Generally, the sub-committee
liked the report but wanted to request additional options, such as the ability to export to excel,
identify of the hearing officer, and grouping by case number. The change request form for
changes to the drop down options of the continuance/reset screen in Odyssey was submitted to
the Odyssey user group and the changes were added. The next step after the Odyssey changes
was to select a pilot county to test the changes, but the changes became live statewide, so this
step was skipped. To date, there is at least six weeks of data. The report is not currently
available in the Odyssey report section, so Ms. Kringlie will work with judicial branch IT to
obtain access. The goal is to have a sub-committee meeting in the Fall of 2012 to look at the
data already collected, compare to national standards and establish a baseline. Ms. Kringlie
asked if the sub-committee needs to pick another goal because analysis is the next and final step.
Ms. Barnhardt responded that until a full year of data is collected, there is no need to pick
another goal. Ms. Barnhardt also stated that Kim Dockter can create a training module for staff
entering information in the continuance/reset screen. This will likely be no more than a half-hour training and Ms. Dockter can give options of ways to provide the training. Ms. Kringlie
said that schedulers statewide are currently using the updated continuance/resent screen, but the
question is whether staff understands the appropriate option to select. Training will need to
include when to use reset versus continuance and the importance of selecting the proper
Old Business Mr. Hentzen advised the committee that the terms for all members, except Ms. Kringlie and Ms.
Wunderlich, expire January 1, 2013. Members can serve a total of three 3 year terms. Judge
Clapp is ending her second 3 year term. Judge Clapp said she will remain for a third term. Ms.
Muhlhauser remains because she is the director of her department. The states attorney
appointment is made by the association. Ms. Huseby can appoint another person or remain. Ms.
Portscheller and Judge Reich are at the end of their second 3 year terms. Ms. Portscheller said
she will remain for a third term. Mr. Rutton said he will remain for another term.
New Business No new business.
Next Meeting The next meeting will be December 14, 2012 at 10 a.m. in Fargo. Ms. Barnhardt requested that
prior to the December 14 meeting sub-committee chairs send any updates on accomplishments
since September 2012 for inclusion in the annual report.
A motion was made by Judge Cresap to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Rivard seconded.