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Improving Juvenile Dependency Case Timeliness Through Use of the One Family, One Judge Model


  • Alicia Summers,

  • Corey Shdaimah

  • Authors' Note: The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges wishes to acknowledge that this material is made possible by Cooperative Agreement No. 2009-MU-MU-K001 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.


Motivated by the timelines set forth by the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, courts are working toward moving cases safely and expeditiously through the juvenile dependency court system. One strategy to improve timeliness is the implementation of a one family, one judge (OFOJ) model. This study examines the effects of OFOJ implementation on timeliness of case processing. Implementation of the OFOJ model showed a trend toward improved timeliness. Post-OFOJ cases were quicker to reach case closure than pre-OFOJ cases. Every additional judge on the case increased time to permanency (i.e., case closure) by 31 days, which means children are spending one additional month in care per judge. Resolving cases quicker could improve the courts' ability to meet statutory timelines, and could lead to better outcomes for children and families.