Court Infusion

Since our inception, we have been working with Nebraska juvenile courts to address the needs of infants and toddlers.

 

Our work with courts has continued to expand to include organization and support of court processes that infuse therapeutic practices supportive of families with young children. We currently have two primary partnerships with Judge Heideman’s Lancaster County Family Treatment Drug Court and Judge Crnkovich’s Douglas County FIRST Court. We also provide support to many other courts and court teams across Nebraska.

Judge's gavel and a small red heart against a white background.

Our Work:

Beginning in 2019, NRPVYC partnered with Judge Linda Porter and the Lancaster County Through the Eyes of the Child (TEOC) Domestic Violence Subcommittee to enhance the practice and services provided to children and families served by juvenile court who have experienced domestic violence.

 

This enhanced practice for juvenile court domestic violence cases aims to give children and parents the opportunity to end the cycle of domestic violence through support, intervention, and education. The dedicated group of professionals working on these cases are encouraged to work as a team to enhance communication and build relationships that will engage the families, provide individual support, and ultimately improve outcomes in these often times complex cases.

 

The development and enhancement of practices on domestic violence cases is ongoing. Initial enhancements include:

  1. Monthly Court Team Meetings with all parties in attendance
  2. Increased focus on tailored case planning with elements specific to domestic violence best practices
  3. Explore innovative methods to support and empower domestic violence survivors, and to increase batterer accountability

 

NRPVYC supports this ongoing work through the following elements:

  1. Ongoing reflective practice is provided to the judge, DHHS caseworkers, and attorneys working on these cases.
  2. An initial Needs Assessment and ongoing program evaluation which focuses on the evolution and impact of teamwork, as well as case outcomes
  3. Facilitation and strategic planning assistance for the Lancaster TEOC Domestic Violence Subcommittee, which has been the driving force in enhancing the practice on these types of cases.

In Furnas County Court, Judge Paine and a group of local attorneys wanted to try a different working with families with abuse or neglect cases in order to provide better outcomes. The team in Furnas County is working with NRPVYC and the NCRP to implement and evaluate their program changes. A few fundamental concepts are driving the work going forward:

  1. Parents need to know the expectations from the very outset of the case,
  2. Front-loading of services is necessary to make reunification more realistic,
  3. More frequent contacts with families provides them with accountability,
  4. Parties and attorneys should work collaboratively and have access to all of the information in a case,
  5. Reflective practice, using the Facilitating Attuned iNteractions (FAN) model and the ARC of Engagement, is a central component in structuring meetings, interactions, and court, and
  6. The judge, attorneys, and prehearing conference mediator should be trained in the FAN model.

The Family Treatment Drug Court (FTDC) Track is a mandatory family drug court established by Judge Roger Heideman in the Separate Juvenile Court in Lancaster County, Nebraska. Family Drug Courts are specialized dependency courts focused on families with substance use and abuse. The FTDC Track seeks to:

  • Provide for expedited access to residential treatment services and supportive housing.
  • Establish a network of service providers who have experience with substance abuse.
  • Provide ongoing social support for parents.
  • Provide participants with an active role in assessing their own progress.
  • Ensure the healthy emotional and physical development of children.

How We Currently Help

  • Ongoing Program Evaluation: Since the FTDC’s inception, the NRPVYC has provided program evaluation to examine the impact of the therapeutic court infusion approach.
  • Reflective Consultation: The NRPVYC facilitates group reflective consultation sessions for FTDC caseworkers and attorneys intended to build a collaborative relationship for learning and support. These sessions provide a mutually respectful place to discuss the emotional and cognitive experiences of their work, learn from past experiences, and apply those lessons in the future. Our goal is to foster an open relationship between group-members and the families they work with.
  • Alumni Mentor Group: The NRPVYC partners with CASA of Lancaster County and the FTDC to manage the FTDC Alumni Mentor program. The FTDC Alumni Mentor program seeks to connect parents in recovery to a healthy peer network. The program holds twice monthly support group meetings for parents and provides free childcare during that time for the children. Additionally, there is a family activity every month to help families have new positive experiences together.

How We Have Helped in the Past

  • Coordination of Young Child Services: The NRPVYC has provided training and consultation emphasizing the importance of relying on evidence-based practices to address trauma in young children.
  • Technical Assistance: The NRPVYC helps ensure the FTDC adheres to evidence based practices and provides consultation for the track both in and out of court as needed. Additionally, we create materials ranging from forms and tools used by court staff to brochures for participants.

 

The core components of the Family Treatment Drug Court Track are: 90-day review hearings, monthly team meetings, identification of families with substance abuse, and specialized trauma-informed services.

We provide single issue and larger system support to a number of juvenile courts and juvenile professionals across Nebraska. Examples include:

  • Training judges in the Nebraska Separate Juvenile Courts in the use of reflective practice
  • Providing reflective consultation to judges in the Nebraska Separate Juvenile Courts
  • Training attorneys on the use of the reflective practice FAN model in client counseling
  • Developing a plan with the Grand Island court team, with the leadership of a juvenile judge and DHHS Service Area Administrator, on implementing the trauma screen in child welfare court cases
  • Meeting with new juvenile court and county court judges and providing board books for use in the classroom when children attend court hearings
  • Providing early childhood and reflective consultation to the UNL College of Law Children's Justice Clinic law students

The NRPVYC is involved in court projects in North Platte, Adams County, Grand Island, Lincoln, and Omaha in Nebraska.

  • Douglas County FIRST Court: From 2016 to 2019, the NRPVYC provided development, evaluation and management support of the Douglas County FIRST Court, a therapeutic court aimed to better address the needs of families through frequent court team meetings, specialized attorneys and caseworkers, and reflective consultation for court professionals.
  • Icebreaker Meetings: Up until 2019, the NRPVYC secured grant funding for and managed the Icebreaker meeting service in Lancaster County.
  • Adams County Training: Trained legal professionals in Adams County to screen for trauma and worked with a collaborative group of providers to increase capacity of early childhood mental health services (Child-Parent Psychotherapy and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy).

Court Infusion Resources:

Family Treatment Drug Court:

 

undergraduate logo Wisehart, C., Hazen, K., and Carlson, M. (2019) (2017). Case Closure Among the Lancaster County's Family Treatment Drug Court: The Role of Personal Relationships. Poster presentation at University of Nebraska-Lincoln Undergraduate Research Fair, Lincoln, NE.

 

Fessinger, M, et. al. (2019). Mandatory, fast, and fair: Case outcomes and procedural justice in a family drug court. Journal of Experimental Criminology, published online 19 June 2019.

 

undergraduate logo Patnode, C., Hautpman, K, Fessinger, M, & Hazen, K. (2018). An evaluation of parent perception in the Lancaster County FTDC Track. Poster presented at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln Undergraduate Research Fair, Lincoln, NE.

 

undergraduate logo Kaiser, H., Fessinger, M., & Hazen, K. (2018). Relinquishing vs. terminating parent rights: The role of procedural justice in a problem-solving court. Poster presented at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln Undergraduate Research Fair, Lincoln, NE.

 

undergraduate logo Engquist, L., Fessinger, M., & Hazen, K. (2017). Parents’ perceptions of the Lancaster Family Treatment Drug Court. Poster presentation at University of Nebraska-Lincoln Undergraduate Research Fair, Lincoln, NE.

 

Heideman, R., Cole-Mossman, J., Hoetger, L., & Hazen, K.P. (2016). Giving parents a voice: a case study of a family treatment drug court track in Lancaster County, Nebraska. The Court Review, 52(1). 36-42.

 

Hazen, K., Hoetger, L., Cole-Mossman, J., Hauptman, K., & Brank, E. (2016). Family treatment drug court: A program evaluation. Paper presented at the annual meeting of American Psychology and Law Society, Atlanta, GA.

 

FIRST Court:

Hazen, K., Fessinger, M., Johnson, L., & Crnkovich, E. (2018). Therapeutic Approaches to Juvenile Court. Paper presentation at the Nebraska Young Child Institute, Kearney, NE.

 

undergraduate logo Human, R., Fessinger, M., Hazen, K., & Brank, E.M. (2018). (FIRST) Court: A program evaluation. Poster presented at the annual meeting of American Psychology and Law Society, Memphis, TN.

 

undergraduate logo Human, R., Morrissett, M., Fessinger, M., & Hazen, K. (2017). Parent experience in the Douglas County FIRST Court. Poster presentation at University of Nebraska-Lincoln Undergraduate Research Fair, Lincoln, NE.

 

undergraduate logo Wachal, S., Hesson, H., Hazen, K., Hoetger, L., & Hauptman, K. (2016). Relationships between parents, caseworkers, and attorneys in the Douglas County Juvenile Court system. Poster presentation at University of Nebraska-Lincoln Undergraduate Research Fair, Lincoln, NE.

 

*Citations with the "undergraduate logo" symbol have undergraduate co-authors.