A New Method of Assessing Judicial Workload in Juvenile Dependency Cases


  • Alicia Summers,

  • Stephanie O. Macgill,

  • Sophia I. Gatowski,

  • Jesse R. Russell,

  • Steve Wood

  • Acknowledgements: This research was conducted in partnership with the Washington Administrative Office of the Courts.


This article describes a new method for calculating judicial workload in dependency or child abuse and neglect cases. In contrast to traditional judicial workload methods, the method described herein produces estimates of judicial workload that take into account the complex role of the juvenile dependency court judge—a role that includes both on- and off-the-bench activities. The method provides workload estimates that give guidance to courts not only about the minimally sufficient judicial resources needed to accommodate current caseload needs, but also what level of judicial resources would be required to hold substantive dependency court hearings that comport with nationally recognized practice recommendations. The article reviews commonly used judicial workload methods, outlines the new method, and uses a pilot of the method as an example of how the method works in practice. Broader implications of this workload method are also discussed.