HB 1734 creates a public-private initiative to design and fund demonstration court sites that provide trained judicial leaders, an early resolution intervention, and a multidisciplinary decision-making team in child welfare court cases. An evaluation of these sites will determine whether the early resolution component improves outcomes for families. These evaluations will be available to courts across the state to adapt their practices to ensure better outcomes.
The administrative office of the courts will participate in the one family one team public-private partnership, which includes a nongovernmental partner that supports reforming the juvenile justice and child welfare system. The public-private partnership will identify private funding that will match public investment in the court demonstration program. Public funding is contingent on the commitment of private match.
The one family one team public-private partnership will spend its first year designing and planning a court demonstration program to provide grants to superior courts that want to implement the model. A planning and designing committee will be assembled to identify an early resolution intervention model (defined as a legal or social service program used during the early stages of child welfare cases used to resolve these cases sooner) by December 1, 2015.
By January 1, 2016, the partnership will provide to the legislature a statement of the public and private funding required in order to provide demonstration grants to four counties. The partnership is responsible for creating grant guidelines and selection criteria for grant recipients based on contractual agreements with the administrative office of the courts. If public funding is available, a competitive grant program is open to state superior courts.
Committee amendment: As amended, HB 1734 adds the following: The One Family One Team court demonstration program is designated as Phase II of the current Family and Juvenile Court Improvement Program. Additional Legislative intent is included to provide structure, support, and funding to advance superior court operations consistent with Unified Family Court principles, and states that Phase II, consisting of the One Family One Team demonstration courts, will further advance court practices to improve outcomes for well-being and timeliness. The bill now requires that the advisory committee for the Family and Juvenile Court Improvement Program participate in the One Family One Team Public-Private Partnership. And, states that the assignment of judicial officers to courts responsible for handling family and juvenile matters for terms of two years or more must be consistent with General Rule 29 of the Washington Court Rules, which governs the selection of a presiding judge to supervise the judicial business of the court.