This guidelines document discusses child welfare program information and is divided into the following sections: an introduction to the Enhanced Resource Guidelines (ERGs) and Implementation Sites Project, implementation sites, the ERG s implementation change model, as well as the goals of the ERGs Implementation Evaluation; a background to Saginaw County, Michigan; a breakdown of evaluation methods for the program in Saginaw County; evaluation results from pre- and post-ERGs implementation; case-file review findings pre- and post-ERGs implementation; a discussion of the results; and a summary.
This document was developed by judges, child welfare court practitioners, and child welfare system researchers; it outlines best practice principles that should guide judges’ handling of child abuse and neglect cases. The ERGs cover all stages of the court process, from the initial or preliminary protective hearing until juvenile or family court jurisdiction has ended. The Enhanced Resource Guidelines (ERGs) assume that the court will remain involved in a case until after the child has been safely returned home; placed in a new, secure, and legally permanent home (either through adoption or legal custody); or the court’s jurisdiction has otherwise ended. They identify best practices and outline the necessary procedural steps for each child abuse and neglect hearing type, identify the key decisions that must be made, specify when each hearing should occur, and describe the judge’s role at each hearing; they also include a judicial bench card for each hearing in the court process with recommendations for preparing for the hearing, case management during the hearing, and preparation for the next hearing. Although the primary target audience is judicial, the ERGs can be relevant to lawyers, caseworkers, and others involved in child abuse and neglect cases. Key principles for child abuse and neglect practice outlined in the ERGs are: keeping families together; ensuring access to justice; engaging families through alternative dispute resolution techniques; ensuring child safety, permanency, and well-being; ensuring adequate and appropriate family time; providing judicial oversight; ensuring competent and adequately compensated representation; and advancing the development of adequate resources.