Present Judge Sonja Clapp, Chair via IVN Shari Doe Robin Huseby via phone Jessica Johnson for Scott Davis Karen Kringlie Judge David Reich Dale Rivard via IVN Judge Jay Schmitz Donna Wunderlich
Absent Judge Todd Cresap Connie Portscheller Bob Rutten
Guest Paul Ronningen
Staff Lee Ann Barnhardt Sally Holewa Catie Palsgraaf, scribe
Judge Clapp called the meeting to order. She asked if there were any comments or changes to
the December 20, 2013 meeting minutes. After no comment, a motion was made by Dale
Rivard to approve the December 20, 2013 minutes. The motion was seconded by Judge Jay
Schmitz, motion carried.
Sub-Committee Report Data Collection Sub-Committee – Karen Kringlie, Chair. Ms. Kringlie reported the data
collection sub-committee continuance report project is in the final stages. As reported in
December, the instructions went out to the schedulers in September 2013 and the sub-committee
is allowing 6 months of data capture. Ms. Kringlie reviewed the month of January 2014 to see
how courts are doing. Statewide there were 233 deprived or termination of parental rights (TPR)
hearings that were rescheduled, but of those only 29 continuances. Most of the rescheduled
hearings were settled by court order or reset by the court. Of the 29 continuances, 6 were
requests by the petitioner, 18 by the respondent. There is still some work to do and Ms. Kringlie
is planning to contact the court administrators in each unit to discuss the impact of the
reset/continuance section of Odyssey. There are still some counties selecting reset and typing
“continuance” in the comment section. The correct option is to select continuance at the outset.
Ms. Kringlie clarified that reset is selected when the court reschedules hearings for events such
as weather, illness, court room changes, etc. Continuance is selected when a party requests to
reschedule a hearing.
The sub-committee will continue to make changes and train as necessary and monitor the data
capture. Hopefully, by the next CIP meeting, six months of data capture will be available to
look at by county or district, depending on how the sub-committee and committee want to view
the data. Ms. Kringlie reported that as of now she doesn’t see any obvious patterns, but judges
may want to see their own report to identify patterns of concern in their courtrooms.
Ms. Kringlie asked how the sub-committee should determine future projects, now that the
continuance project is entering its monitoring phase. Does the sub-committee wait for the
committee or another sub-committee to give the data sub-committee a project? Or should the
data sub-committee decide their projects to measure and review? Prior to the committee
meeting, Ms. Kringlie and Ms. Palsgraaf reviewed the CIP Committee meeting minutes available
at ndcourts.gov and the original program instruction for the CIP Data Collection and Analysis
grant. It doesn’t appear to be clear how projects for the sub-committee are determined.
Judge Clapp stated that she believes the committee as a whole approves the projects the sub-committee works on, but did not believe the original suggestion needed to come from the
committee. The suggestion could come from the sub-committee as long as the committee
approves the project.
Ms. Barnhardt asked if there were areas in the strategic plan that could inform the data sub-committee’s projects. Ms. Palsgraaf answered that there are areas in the required data reporting
in the annual report where the sub-committee could be very helpful.
Ms. Barnhardt stated that disproportionality of Native American children in foster care is an area
of concern for both the courts and social services. She suggested a project that separates abuse
deprivation filings from neglect deprivation filings to begin to pinpoint whether cultural
sensitivity plays a part in Native American children entering foster care. There was discussion
of where to capture abuse versus neglect filings and the need for developing cultural sensitivity
training based on Native American family dynamics to prevent unnecessary removals. Ms.
Kringlie stated that she will look at the juvenile court data available to see if abuse can be
distinguished from neglect in deprivation filings.
Judge Clapp asked if online training on accurate entry of resets and continuances was available
to schedulers. Ms. Kringlie explained that the sub-committee drafted an instructional sheet that
was emailed in September 2013 to all the clerks and schedulers in the court system. The
inconsistencies Ms. Kringlie saw in her review of January 2014 were limited to small number of
counties and a reminder may be all that is necessary. Ms. Kringlie will send the examples to the
juvenile director of each unit to address with their court administrator and clerks of court.
Review of data from Attachments A & B of CIP Self-Assessment Please refer to Attachment A and Attachment B of the FY 2013 Annual CIP Self-Assessment.
Attachment A Ms. Palsgraaf reported the FY 2013 Annual CIP Self Assessment required data on five court
performance measures in child abuse and neglect cases. The measures come from The Toolkit
for Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases published by the Department
of Justice in 2008. This is the first report to the Children’s Bureau that required data reporting.
Attachment A is the report on the five measures for North Dakota. The five measures are Time
to First Permanency Hearing; Time to all Subsequent Permanency Hearings; Time to Permanent
Placement; Time to TPR Petition; and Time to TPR. Each measure was reported by judicial
district rather than county to reduce the risk of inadvertently identifying individual cases in
counties with small numbers of deprivation and TPR cases.
The reporting timeframe for this first report is the federal fiscal year, specifically 10/1/2012
through 9/30/2013. The expectation of the Children’s Bureau for the first report of the 5
measures is that the data will not be perfect. State CIP committees are expected to build on this
first attempt and adjust their data gathering and reporting as necessary. Ultimately, the data
needs to be useful to the individual state. One adjustment states can make is the reporting
timeframe. If the federal fiscal year is not useful, the state can adjust the timeframe.
There was discussion about the permanency hearing measures, which require a permanency
hearing within 365 days of the child entering foster care and subsequent permanency hearings
held 365 days of the prior permanency hearing. Discussion included the difficulty of effectively
and efficiently identifying cases with completed permanency hearings within the court case
management system, and differing scheduling procedures in judicial districts. Also discussed
was the reluctance to schedule permanency hearings early in a deprivation or TPR case because
not all children are under court supervision 365 days from entering foster care. In general,
juvenile courts are not alerted when a child exits foster care and the order expires without need
of a permanency hearing. If a child will remain in foster care 365 days from entry, the court is
contacted to schedule a permanency hearing, but, depending on how early the scheduling request
is made, the hearing calendar may be full.
Ms. Palsgraaf stated that she will make the following adjustments to the permanency hearing
data she will gather and report for FY 2014. For Time to First Permanency Hearing, she will
include deprivation and TPR cases where the first permanency hearing occurred between
10/1/2013 and 9/30/2014 by pulling cases filed 12 months prior to the most recently completed
FY 2014 quarter she is reviewing. For Time to all Subsequent Permanency Hearings, she will
use the same process as FY 2013 to identify subsequent permanency hearings.
There was discussion about the time to permanent placement measure, which measures the time
from filing the original deprivation petition to legal permanency. Discussion included an
inability to reliably identify legal permanence from the court case management system, so the
data reported on this measure for FY 2013 was obtained from ND DHS foster care tracking
system. ND DHS provided Ms. Palsgraaf with a report of all children who exited foster care
placement during FY 2013. The foster care tracking system considers exiting from foster care a
change in placement, so it may not always indicate a final order and legal permanency. For
example, an exit from foster care to adoption indicates the child’s status change to an adoptive
placement, rather than a final adoption order. Still, Ms. Palsgraaf believes this foster care exit
data more accurately reflects legal permanency than data that can currently be gathered from the
court case management system.
Ms. Palsgraaf stated that she will likely utilize the foster care tracking data to report permanent
placements in FY 2014. She will work with ND DHS on data sharing to try and match DHS and
court records so legal permanency can be established, although this may be a more long-term
project and not available for FY 2014 reporting.
There was discussion about the TPR measures, which measure the number of days from
deprivation petition file to TPR petition file and TPR final order. Cases were identified in the
court case management program by TPR petitions and/or TPR final orders filed between
10/1/2012 and 9/30/2013. Ms. Palsgraaf separated the TPR cases by voluntary and involuntary.
She defined voluntary TPR cases as those where both parents agreed to termination at the time
of the case filing. All others were defined as involuntary, including cases where a parent was
unable to be located.
Ms. Palsgraaf stated that she will add a related TPR measure to the report for FY 2014,
Timeliness of Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings. This measures how long it takes
from the time the TPR petition is filed to the date of the final TPR order.
Attachment B Ms. Palsgraaf reported on the FY 2013 Annual CIP Self Assessment data on high quality
representation for children. Every child who enters foster care is assigned a lay GAL whose task
is to make independent recommendations regarding the best interests of each child in deprivation
cases. The measurements of program effectiveness undertaken by the CIP Committee in FY
2013 are timely appointment of the lay GAL; timely lay GAL reports to juvenile court; and
thoroughness of lay GAL report to juvenile court.
The reporting timeframe is the federal fiscal year, specifically 10/1/2012 through 9/30/2013. As
with the five measures from Attachment A, the expectation of the Children’s Bureau is state CIP
committees will build on this first attempt and adjust their data gathering and reporting as
There was discussion about timely appointment of lay GALs in FY 2013. The data measured
whether juvenile court appointed a lay GAL was appointed within 48 hours of the deprivation
case filing. Five of the seven judicial districts experiences compliance in well over 80% of
cases. The two judicial districts with lower compliance experienced a smaller number of
deprivation cases overall during FY 2013 and an even smaller number of cases outside the 48
hour appointment window. With the outliers removed, compliance increased to well over 80%
in each judicial district.
There was discussion about timely lay GAL reports filed with juvenile court in FY 2013.
Completed lay GAL reports are to be available to the juvenile court five days before the
scheduled hearing date. Rule 17(b)(5) of the North Dakota Rules of Juvenile Procedure requires
the juvenile court provide copies of the lay GAL report to all parties. Providing the report to the
juvenile court five days before the hearing date allows parties time to receive and review the
report prior to appearing in court. Under Rule 17(b)(5), the juvenile court has discretion to
chose which hearing the report will be required. The chosen hearing type is not consistent
among juvenile courts.
Two judicial districts are at or slightly above 80% compliance with timely report filing. Each
consistently required reports prior to one specific hearing type.
Three of the five remaining judicial districts appear to consistently require reports prior to one
specific hearing type, but timely report filing occurs five days prior to the hearing in less than
80% of cases. The remaining two judicial districts do not appear to consistently require reports
prior to one specific hearing type and timely report filing compliance is lowest statewide.
Further study and process improvement is required to meet compliance for this measurement.
There was discussion of including the hearing type in the lay GAL appointment order; along
with the number of days prior to the hearing the report is due. There was concern about whether
five days prior to a hearing is sufficient time for parties for attorneys to prepare.
There was discussion about the thoroughness of lay GAL reports to juvenile court in FY 2013.
This measurement attempts to ensure juvenile courts receive consistent information from GAL
reports to assist in judicial decision making in the best interest of the child. The reports must
include, at minimum, the current reason for the court action; the history leading to the current
court action, including the child’s history and parent history; a review of the lay GAL
investigation; the needs of the child, including physical, emotional, placement and educational
needs; and the lay GAL’s recommendation.
Compliance in every judicial district is very high overall in including each of the required
subject areas in the report. Two judicial districts need to include educational needs more
consistently. The lay GAL program director will ensure the lay GALs in those districts are
addressing educational needs in their reports. Given the high overall compliance, this measure
will be reviewed to incorporate a qualitative element.
Overall, for the next reporting period of FY 2014, specifically 10/1/2013 through 9/30/2014, Ms.
Palsgraaf will present quarterly data reports of the five required measure and lay GAL measures
at each CIP Committee meeting. Statewide quarterly totals will be included for each measure.
The committee and sub-committees need to determine benchmarks for all of the measures and
whether to continue to report based on the federal fiscal year. The committee will also need to
decide whether to report the data using average or median values. Ms. Palsgraaf will provide
information to the committee about using averages or medians so the committee can decide their
preference. The Toolkit for Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases
states either way is acceptable and should be based on the needs of the state. The toolkit does
suggest that median is preferable as it represents the midpoint between the lowest and highest
values so less affected by outliers or extreme deviations.
Ms. Huseby commented that Rule 17 may not need to be updated and that individual judges and
referees could increase lay GAL timely report filing by including the hearing type in the
appointment order. Ms. Barnhardt responded that statewide inconsistency in when the reports
are required has significantly contributed to the problem. If the requirement is in the rule,
everyone follows it. Mr. Rivard was asked what he would like to see from a states attorney
perspective and he responded he would like to see at least five days before pretrial and five days
before the permanency hearing. This would give time to prepare. Mr. Rivard stated that he is in
contact with the lay GALs well before trial for their preliminary determination and uses this
information to facilitate settlement discussions as appropriate.
Update on QA Project Ms. Palsgraaf introduced Paul Ronningen, the individual who recently contracted with the court
system to provide quality assurance monitoring of active deprivation cases statewide. Mr.
Ronningen is funded from CIP grants as part of the QA project.
Mr. Ronningen gave a preliminary report of his activities to date. He began training at the
beginning of February 2014. Currently, he is becoming accustomed to the court case
management system and beginning to review cases. Mr. Ronningen asked the committee for
their input on what they would like him to look for. He would like to identify both strengths and
areas of improvement in his monitoring activities. He is looking at statutory requirements in
orders and in timing events and activities at this time.
Judge Clapp asked how Mr. Ronningen’s activities differ from Ms. Palsgraaf’s position. Mr.
Ronningen is monitoring active cases to identify potential issues, such as unscheduled
permanency hearings, and to quickly resolve errors, such as missing order language. Ms.
Palsgraaf is responsible for analysis of juvenile court activities and programs, historical data
reporting, program evaluation and child welfare related research. The intention behind the QA
project is to determine if monitoring and tracking active child welfare cases has a positive impact
There was discussion about Mr. Ronningen potentially liaising with county social services to fill
in the pieces that may not be clear from the court file. Ms. Doe reported that the concerns her
office hears most office are about orders that do not contain the required language. Mr.
Ronningen reported that, based on his preliminary review, most court orders contain the
statutorily required language.
Mr. Ronningen will attend committee meetings to report his findings.
GAL Sub-Committee Report – Robin Huseby, Chair. Ms. Huseby reported that she will be
meeting in March 2014 with Ms. Palsgraaf, Ms. Barnhardt and the new CIP Director, Scott
Johnson to discuss options for the sub-committee. They will review the data gathered for the FY
2013 Annual CIP Self-Assessment and come up with suggestions for direction of the sub-committee.
Mr. Rivard asked if the sub-committee should meet and decide on benchmarks for the data
gathered in Attachment B. Ms. Huseby answered that she is looking for direction on what the
sub-committee’s relationship is with the lay GAL Program and what the CIP Committee wants
the sub-committee role to be. Ms. Huseby will meet with Ms. Palsgraaf, Ms. Barnhardt and Mr.
Johnson, and then call a meeting of the sub-committee to review options.
ICWA Sub-Committee Report – Judge Todd Cresap & Connie Portscheller, Co-Chairs.
Ms. Palsgraaf reported for Judge Cresap and Ms. Portscheller. The ICWA sub-committee met
during the ICWA Conference in February 2014. The auditors for the court system ICWA audit
met with the sub-committee and reported their findings so far and their timeline for completion.
When they complete the audit, the CIP Committee will review and ask any questions. The
auditors will then answer any questions or concerns raised by the committee. When the CIP
Committee determines the report is final, it will be presented to the Administrative Council.
Then, it will be available to the public.
As part of the audit process, when the auditors identify a potential ICWA issue, they notify Ms.
Palsgraaf who then notifies the sub-committee. Solutions, both long and short term, are
discussed and implemented as appropriate. Recently, the auditors suggested a hard card of
required ICWA language would likely resolve language issues identified in some findings and
orders. The sub-committee approved the creation of a hard card and asked that it be distributed
to all persons who may have input into findings and orders, such as attorneys, social services,
court staff, etc. Ms. Palsgraaf is working on the hard card for distribution.
Education Sub-Committee Report – Judge David Reich, Chair. Ms. Palsgraaf reported for
Judge Reich. The ICWA Conference was held February 19-20, 2014 in Mandan, ND. It looked
well attended, although it is too early for official attendance numbers or evaluation results.
There was discussion at the conference about moving the next conference to a larger venue.
July 22-24, 2014 is the Children’s Justice Symposium in Bismarck at the Ramkota Inn. It will
be free of charge. CIP grants are a significant source of funding this conference. A save the date
announcement will be sent in April 2014.
State CIP Program Review in New Orleans, LA, April 28-29, 2014 Ms. Palsgraaf, Mr. Johnson and Ms. Wunderlich will attend this meeting. Confirmation was just
received that each state CIP can send a fourth person. There was strong suggestion that the
fourth person should be from the state’s child welfare agency. Ms. Palsgraaf with send the
meeting information to Ms. Doe.
Select locations of remaining 2014 meeting dates · May 16, 2014 will meet in Valley City from 10am to 12pm. · July 25, 2014 will meet in Bismarck from 10am to 12pm. · November 7, 2014 will meet via IVN locations in Bismarck and Grand Forks.
A motion was made by Judge Jay Schmitz to adjourn the meeting, motion seconded by
Shari Doe, meeting adjourned.