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:

In 2016, the NRPVYC conducted a needs assessment and issued an initial report recommending core components of a new therapeutic court to address the needs of families, especially those with young children. As a result of this report, Judge Elizabeth Crnkovich started the Family Involved Rehabilitation and Services Track (FIRST Court) in the Douglas County Separate Juvenile Court on January 1st, 2017.


One in every ten new abuse/neglect cases in Douglas County are assigned to FIRST Court.


What do we do?

  • We provide group reflective consultation sessions for the judge and attorneys.
  • We are on hand to troubleshoot and provide support and organization.
  • We train court professionals to implement reflective practice in the courtroom.
  • We conduct program evaluation.
The core components of FIRST Court are monthly court team meetings, assigned attorneys and caseworkers, an appointed CASA volunteer, immediate family finding services, and regular reflective practice for the judge, attorneys, and caseworkers.

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:

  • 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.

What do we do?

  • Coordinating Young Child Services: The NRPVYC provides training and consultation for Child-Parent Psychotherapy, trainings on trauma-screenings for infants and toddlers, and general support for young child services. We emphasize the importance of relying on evidence-based practicing to address trauma in young children.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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 legal professionals in Adams County to screen for trauma and working with a collaborative group of providers to increase capacity of early childhood mental health services (Child-Parent Psychotherapy and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy)
  • 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
  • Securing grant funding for and managing the Icebreaker meeting service in Lancaster County
  • 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.

Court Infusion Resources:

Family Treatment Drug Court:


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.