Present Judge Sonja Clapp, Chair Merle Botone via phone for Scott Davis Judge Todd Cresap via phone Robin Huseby Connie Portscheller via phone Judge David Reich Dale Rivard Bob Rutten via phone
Absent Shari Doe Karen Kringlie Judge Jay Schmitz Donna Wunderlich
Guests Melanie Sage, Assistant Professor UND Department of Social Work Lanny Serrano, Guardian ad Litem Program Coordinator (Western District) Brad Swenson, Guardian ad Litem Program Director Don Wolf, Court Administration Director of Finance, via phone
Staff Lee Ann Barnhardt Scott Johnson via phone Catie Palsgraaf, scribe
Judge Sonja Clapp called the meeting to order. She asked if there were any comments or
changes to the February 28, 2014 meeting minutes. After no comment, a motion was made by
Judge David Reich to approve the February 28, 2014 minutes. The motion was seconded
by Dale Rivard, motion carried.
Lay GAL budget discussion – essentials for effectiveness Scott Johnson explained that prior to submitting the court system budget for the next biennium;
he wanted to bring some awareness to how the rate of lay GAL spending is occurring. He
reminded the committee during the last legislative session, the entire lay GAL budget was
moved within the court system budget. He asked Don Wolf to provide some perspective on the
lay GAL budget past and present and asked the committee for feedback on what can potentially
be done to bring some efficiencies into the lay GAL process.
Mr. Wolf discussed the lay GAL budget numbers that were sent to committee members prior to
the meeting. Please refer to the 2015-17 GAL Budget document. The budget numbers are
broken out by lay GAL fees paid out for each biennium since 2005-07 through the first 9 months
of 2013-15. The budget is further broken out by lay GAL salaries, travel expenses and
Youthworks administration fees. Mr. Wolf reviewed the percent increases in each category and
the total percent increase for the overall lay GAL program budget. The budget has increased
significantly from biennium to biennium.
Catie Palsgraaf asked the committee to identify when and how the hourly expectations of the lay
GALs changed. Brad Swenson discussed the lay GAL program policy in 2006-07 which
provided a maximum of 15 hours per case. If the lay GAL required more than 15 hours for the
case, a written request was required. Mr. Swenson explained that a point was reached where
requests were so numerous that the policy was abandoned. Currently, in Fargo for example, the
lay GAL stays with the case until disposition. If the case will need a permanency hearing, a lay
GAL is re-assigned. Ms. Palsgraaf stated that most of the lay GAL appointment orders she has
reviewed statewide appoint a lay GAL through disposition or as otherwise directed by the court.
There was discussion about the length of lay GAL appointments in practice. Dale Rivard stated
that in Grand Forks County the lay GAL indicates to the court at disposition of the deprivation
case whether the lay GAL needs to remain assigned post disposition. The judge makes a
decision whether to allow the lay GAL to remain on the case. Lanny Serrano explained that this
is the recommended procedure. Judges or referees should determine at disposition if the lay
GAL should remain on the case.
Ms. Palsgraaf asked if any of the increases from biennium to biennium could be explained by an
increased number of lay GALs on the roster. Mr. Swenson discussed the increased number of
open deprivation cases from year to year that have resulted in increased lay GAL appointments.
Robin Huseby commented that with increasing deprivation cases, more lay GALs will be needed
and this is the cost of doing business.
Mr. Swenson reported on cost-saving measures implemented by Youthworks. Lay GALs are
encouraged to spend time with children, families and foster families. This is also encouraged
through the Court Administrator’s office and the federal government. As a result, time spent
with children, families and foster families has increased. Lay GAL’s are also encouraged to
participate by phone when possible at court proceedings, social services meetings, school
meetings and family team meetings. Travel outside of the lay GAL’s designated district must be
preapproved by Mr. Swenson or Mr. Serrano. Each lay GAL has a designated home courthouse
and mileage is calculated from the courthouse to the destination outside the home courthouse
city. Face to face interaction with children, families and foster families is encouraged, but is also
allowed by other technological means, if available and effective.
Ms. Palsgraaf suggested prioritizing which types of hearings to attend in person and which to
attend by phone or IVN. Mr. Rivard commented that the first time the lay GAL meets the
parents is at the shelter care hearing and lay GALs need to meet parents in person in order to
form any kind of meaningful relationship. The hearing itself may last less than 15 minutes, but
the discussions occurring after are essential.
Mr. Johnson discussed the two main issues to be addressed with the lay GAL budget. The first
issue is the 5% projected increase in overall spending, which must come from somewhere. It is
incumbent on Court Administration and the committee to discuss how to effectively manage the
resource knowing everything that a lay GAL needs to get done on a case. The second issue is
that the kind of sustained growth in percentages of spending from 2005-07 to the present is
probably not sustainable. The challenge is to maintain the quality of lay GAL activities that
must occur in the life of a case while also managing costs within the budget structure. Mr.
Johnson explained that the Governor has provided initial budget guidance of zero growth for the
2015-17 budget. Any requests for increases must be justified and, ultimately, the program must
operate within the given budget parameters.
Judge Clapp agreed with Ms. Huseby and Mr. Serrano that continual increases in the number of
deprivation cases statewide require an increase in lay GAL budget. Judge Clapp also stated that
judges do not want lay GALs to just repeat reports provided by other participants in the case.
The courts want the lay GALs to be independent and give meaningful observations and
recommendations from what they learned, not just from reading other reports. With these
factors, any increases to the lay GAL budget can be justified.
Ms. Huseby commented that the Governor is asking for zero budget growth for the 2015-17
biennium, but will allow individual requests if related to the oil boom. Will the Supreme Court
have the ability to identify lay GAL funds that should be increased due to oil activity? Mr. Wolf
answered that the GAL Program growth could be related to the oil boom to a certain extent, but
growth is evident in all units, not just those directly impacted by oil activity. Increases in other
units will be harder to justify as based solely on oil activity.
Judge Clapp asked what the committee needs to do on the issue of the lay GAL budget. Ms.
Huseby suggested that Mr. Swenson and Mr. Serrano should provide a brief report on the cost
saving measures they currently have in place and the measures they are considering.
Mr. Johnson commented that recommendations would be helpful. He suggested outlining the
elements of an average case and the average number of hours associated with each element.
This would help inform the overall discussion. Mr. Serrano stated that a review of lay GAL
cases shows an average of approximately 16 hours per case from appointment to disposition and
an average of approximately 6 hours post-disposition per case. Post-disposition involves
following the case after the disposition hearing through the expiration of the order. If the case
returns to court during the post-disposition stage, the lay GAL appointment may be extended.
Mr. Swenson clarified that when a lay GAL monitors a case post-disposition, the lay GAL
makes contact once per month to check in and make sure that the case is progressing. Post-disposition monitoring does not involve the intensive case management that occurs pre-disposition.
Mr. Rivard asked how many hours are spent by the lay GAL post-permanency hearing. Mr.
Swenson will gather that information for the Committee.
Mr. Serrano discussed the reason for keeping a lay GAL on a case post-disposition. There are
two options, the first option is to end the lay GAL appointment after the disposition hearing and
reappoint if a permanency hearing is scheduled. The second is to end intensive case
management after the disposition hearing and monitor the case monthly until the order expires or
a permanency hearing is scheduled. Mr. Serrano explained that in the first option, the lay GAL
needs more time to catch up on the case for the permanency hearing than when they monitor the
case monthly. Currently, the preference is the second option, monitor monthly during the post-dispostion stage.
Judge Clapp asked for next steps on the lay GAL budget as a committee. Mr. Johnson answered
that he would like the committee’s help with providing background on the lay GAL process and
statistical analysis if a budget increase is requested. He would also like the GAL Sub-Committee to provide assistance on what constitutes lay GAL quality case management. Mr.
Wolf commented that information about the ongoing increase of deprivation cases and the court
requirement that lay GALs provide independent, meaningful reports are very useful to increases
in the budget. He also asked for projections on what the budget estimate is for the next couple of
years. The need justification and identification of where the increases are likely need to be as
specific as possible.
Bob Rutten commented on the importance of recognizing the documented number of increased
challenges that service centers throughout the state have experienced in the past few years and
ongoing in the present. He asked if there is merit in the committee making a resolution or formal
documentation of support to the appropriate body about the need to increase the budget.
Judge Clapp responded that it is appropriate for the committee to make a recommendation to the
Administrative Council. She believes that the budget numbers and statistics prepared for this
meeting are a great start. Additionally, population figures, measures taken by the GAL Program
to trim costs and a review of the needed activities on each case should be included. Once all of
this information is gathered, the committee will have a better basis to bring forth a
recommendation to Administrative Council.
Ms. Huseby will task the GAL Sub-Committee with gathering the additional information
necessary to draft the recommendation. Then, the sub-committee will also write a draft of the
Ms. Palsgraaf asked about a timeline for completing the recommendation for Administrative
Council. Mr. Johnson answered that the juvenile court portion of the 2015-17 biennial budget is
due by July 16 to Mr. Wolf. Judge Clapp stated that the next meeting of the CIP Committee
isn’t scheduled until July 25, but if the budget is due July 16, how should the committee proceed
with a recommendation. Mr. Wolf answered that the committee can finalize the
recommendation on July 25, as long as a rough draft is submitted to Mr. Wolf by July 16. The
final recommendation should be submitted to Mr. Wolf as soon as possible after July 25.
Mr. Rivard asked for an outline of what the sub-committee needs to complete for the
recommendation. He suggested that the sub-committee could divide up the workload, such as
contacting social services in different counties for their insight into the reasons for increased
deprivations, and meet to put all the elements into a draft recommendation.
The GAL Sub-Committee will draft a formal recommendation for review by the CIP Committee
on July 25 for finalization. The final recommendation of the CIP Committee will be presented to
Administrative Council. The recommendation should include:
· The budget and statistics presented at this meeting; · The essential activities of a lay GAL on each case, including post-disposition; · Reasons for the increased deprivation and TPR cases; · Justifications for why the budget should be increased; and · Current and contemplated cost saving measures from Mr. Swenson and Mr. Serrano.
Ms. Huseby reported that she contacted the GAL Sub-Committee to alert them that she would
receive assignments from the CIP Committee at this meeting and schedule a sub-committee
meeting to work on any projects. She will call the meeting very quickly to work on drafting the
Update on QA project Ms. Palsgraaf reported that Paul Ronningen, the contractor who is tasked with reviewing active
deprivation and TPR cases statewide, needed to conclude his participation in the project.
Currently, the project is on hold while the committee determines the direction of the project.
Ms. Palsgraaf will distribute to the committee the reports submitted by Mr. Ronningen during his
time as QA Monitor. The QA project could tie in with grant reporting requirements, but
currently Ms. Palsgraaf handles the data collection and reporting for the year-end report.
The committee will review the reports submitted by Mr. Ronningen and decide on the direction
of the project at the July 25 meeting.
Update on ICWA audit Melanie Sage reported on the progress of the ICWA audit. Please refer to the ICWA Qualitative
Observations draft document dated May 9, 2014. The auditor, Winonah Monette, is finishing the
cases from 10/1/2009 through 9/30/2010. Approximately 70% of the cases are completed with
60 or so cases remaining.
Ms. Sage explained that when a compliance issue is identified in a case, it does not necessarily
follow that the entire case is out of compliance. Sometimes there are minor concerns or non-compliance that occurs even though the court made concerted efforts to meet compliance
standards. Ms. Sage and Ms. Monette are in regular communication with Ms. Palsgraaf to
address issues of concern that are identified. Ms. Sage reviewed the final page of the ICWA
Qualitative Observations draft document, which contains preliminary recommendations based on
audit findings so far.
Connie Portscheller reminded the committee that interim reports of the ICWA audit, such as the
report reviewed at this meeting, cannot be shared outside of the committee or ICWA sub-committee. Once the final report is presented to the Administrative Council, the final report will
be available for public view.
The ICWA Qualitative Observations draft document will be referred to the ICWA Sub-Committee for review and comment. Judge Clapp commented that she likes the idea of
including recommendations and actions taken in the final report when it is presented to
GAL Sub-Committee – Robin Huseby, Chair. Ms. Huseby reported that she will call a
meeting as soon as possible to work on the assignments from the committee.
ICWA Sub-Committee – Judge Todd Cresap & Connie Portscheller, Co-Chairs. Ms.
Portscheller reported that the draft reviewed today will be sent to the full sub-committee. She
will try to meet with the sub-committee before the July 25, 2014 CIP Committee meeting.
Ms. Palsgraaf reported that she is working on the hard card and is receiving assistance from the
court system Education Coordinator with formatting. She is also drafting a two-sided guide for
ICWA compliant findings and orders, which is intended for anyone who writes findings and
Ms. Portscheller reported that she took part in a listening session sponsored by the BIA on
possible updates or revisions to the state court ICWA guidelines. The comments were very
interesting and the BIA will continue to take comments through the end of July 2014. Then, the
BIA will release their findings on whether and how to update the guidelines.
Education Sub-Committee – Judge David Reich, Chair. Lee Ann Barnhardt reported for
Judge Reich. Notice was sent out this week for registration for the Children’s Justice
Symposium, which will be held in Bismarck, July 22 – 24, 2014. This takes a large portion of
the Education grant funds.
The first planning session for the 2015 ICWA conference is next week. This is another of the
significant expenditures under the Education grant.
Ms. Barnhardt would like the sub-committee to look at internal training for judges and referees
as more data and reports are received from the other sub-committees. The data should be
incorporated into court-wide trainings. This is the next step for the sub-committee.
Data Collection Sub-Committee – Karen Kringlie, Chair. Ms. Palsgraaf reported for Ms.
Kringlie. Please refer to the Summary of Study of Six Months of Hearing Events – Oct 2013 to
March 2014 document submitted to the committee by Ms. Kringlie.
The sub-committee reviewed six months of cancelled, reset, continued and deleted hearings in
deprivation and TPR cases. The hearings data was pulled from the continued hearings report the
sub-committee caused to be created in Odyssey. A large percentage of hearings (65%) were held
A potential concern was identified from the six month review. In Odyssey, a person can
circumvent the cancel/reset/continue process and delete a hearing by right clicking on the
hearing date. This does not allow a delete reason to be selected. Unless someone with special
privileges views the hearings screen, deleted hearings are not visible.
The list of the deleted hearings have been separated by unit and sent to a designated sub-committee member to review for appropriate use. The sub-committee will review the results and
decide whether the right-click delete option should be removed or if additional training would
resolve the issue.
Aside from the potential deleted hearings issue, the report appears to be ready for deeper
analysis into why continuances are occurring.
The theme of this year’s meeting was creating time for inquiry, reflection and discussion of the
work to better understand if what we are doing works, and how we would know. Tim Jaasko-Fisher of University of Washington School of Law and the WA CIP was the meeting facilitator.
The style and techniques he used are known as liberating structures. Liberating structures are a
tool for engaging team members in thinking about, planning, implementing and assessing
improvement efforts and innovation. (http://www.liberatingstructures.com/)
The meeting also included two brief video presentations, one produced by the Children’s Bureau
as part of the Virtual Evaluation Summit and the other by the Mississippi CIP. The first video
shown was the CB animated short “Who Cares About Data Sharing: Making the Case to
Courts.” The short stars Dr. Gene Flango of the NRCLJI/NCSC and can be seen by following
the below link. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/assistance/program-evaluation/virtual-summit/data-sharing-courts
The meeting closed with a viewing of a film produced by the Mississippi CIP, “Giving Parents a
Voice: Legal Representation of Indigent Parents in Child Welfare Cases.” The film was made
using CIP funds with some additional foundation support. http://madgenius-1.com/video-share/Court/GivingParentsVoice.1.7.mp4
Review data gathered from FFY 2014 Q1 Ms. Palsgraaf reviewed the lay GAL measures and the TPR measures for the first quarter of the
Federal Fiscal Year 2014 (October 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014). Due to time
constraints, this will be reviewed in more detail at the July 25, 2014 CIP Committee meeting.
Next 2014 meeting dates · July 25, 2014 – 10am to 12pm, Bismarck · November 7, 2014 – 10am to 12pm, IVN