Protecting Children Families & Communities

Goal 4: Protecting Children, Families, and Communities

Goal 4: Protecting Children, Families, and Communities

The removal of an abused or neglected child from the parents’ home and the termination of parental rights involve significant government intrusions into the family and represent a significant use of the court’s authority. For such cases, all parties must be assured prompt access to courts and due process. The judicial system must consider the rights of the parents and the safety and well­being of the child or children.

On the other end of the age spectrum, the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that nearly one­quarter of Arizona’s population is at least 55 years of age.The ramifications of an aging population on the Judicial Branch include increased filings in the areas of guardianship, conservatorship, elder fraud, and physical abuse.

Although significant strides have been made to ensure that fiduciaries are held accountable for the services they provide to their vulnerable clients, much remains to be done to protect our seniors and other vulnerable persons.

Holding those convicted of crimes accountable and reducing their likelihood of re­offending are central to protecting Arizona’s communities. Evidence­based sentencing relies on a set of tools designed to offer judicial officials objective, scientific research about criminal behavior to assist them when making probation decisions. Coordinating objective data with the risk level of each probationer allows the judicial officer to tailor a term of probation and supervision that will achieve greater levels of success in rehabilitation and preventing recidivism. In the criminal process, we must also help ensure that victims are afforded the full panoply of rights available to them.

4A  Protecting Vulnerable Children and Families

Reforms implemented within the last several years to protect children, families, and vulnerable persons in Arizona must continue to receive priority.

Action Plan

  • Ensure prompt dependency and severance trials and appeals.
  • Participate in the national effort to collect data and determine the issues affecting the elderly.
  • Review the proposed national reporting standards for abused and neglected children and their families to determine standards for Arizona.
  • Improve legal representation in cases involving abuse, neglect, delinquency, and dependency:
    • Ensure that court volunteers who work with children and who make recommendations to the court are trained in core competencies, and
    • Consider adopting and implementing dependency attorney standards.
  • Provide continuing education to the judiciary on the impact of child abuse and neglect.
  • Respect the unique demographics and needs of children in the dependency system by striving to diversify the base of volunteers who serve them.
  • Examine model delinquency guidelines and determine which guidelines should be applied in Arizona courts.
  • Review the child support guidelines and implement changes approved by the Arizona Judicial Council.
  • Review the current processing of domestic violence cases and recommend improvements.
  • Hold a statewide domestic violence prevention training summit and develop distance learning training modules on relevant domestic violence topics.
  • Develop a training manual for court staff who process domestic violence cases.

4B Protecting Communities

Provide a balanced approach to probation that holds probationers accountable, keeps our communities safe, and provides treatment and rehabilitative services to offenders.

Action Plan

  • Reduce revocations by striving for successful terminations from probation.
  • Implement Project SAFE (Swift, Accountable, Fair Enforcement).
  • Employ evidence­based practices to
    • Improve the revocation process,
    • Incorporate evidence­based practices into Juvenile Justice Services field operations,
    • Complete a statewide rollout of all evidence­based practice codes, and
    • Establish a process to evaluate adult treatment programs.
  • Implement the juvenile detention center certification and monitoring process.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of therapeutic courts.