The State Court Improvement Program (CIP) was created as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1993, Public Law 103-66, which among other things, provided Federal funds to State child welfare agencies and Tribes for preventive services and services to families at risk or in crisis. OBRA designated a portion of these funds ($5 million in fiscal year 1995 and $10 million in each of FYs 1996 through 1998) for grants to State court systems to conduct assessments of their foster care and adoption laws and judicial processes, and to develop and implement a plan for system improvement. Awards are made to the highest State courts in States participating in the IV-E program. The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA), Public Law 105-89, reauthorized the CIP through 2001, which Congress funded at $10 million annually. There were no substantive changes made to the CIP in the 1997 reauthorization.
The Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001, Public Law 107-133, reauthorized the Court Improvement Program through FY 2006. The law also expands the scope of the program to: (1) include improvements that the highest courts deem necessary to provide for the safety, well-being, and permanence of children in foster care, as set forth in ASFA; and (2) implement a corrective action plan, as necessary, in response to findings identified in a child and family services review of the State's child welfare system. Public Law 107-133 authorizes a mandatory funding level of $10 million for CIP and new discretionary funding for FYs 2002 through 2006. From any discretionary funding appropriated annually for the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program, the law authorizes a 3.3 percent set-aside for the CIP. Finally, the Court Improvement Program authority was transferred to a new section 438 of the Social Security Act.
As of FY 2001 all eligible States (50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico) are receiving annual Court Improvement Program grants. Typical activities include development of mediation programs, joint agency-court training, automated docketing and case tracking, linked agency-court data systems, one judge/one family models, time-specific docketing, formalized relationships with the child welfare agency, improvement of representation for children and families, CSFR program improvement plan (PIP) development and implementation, and legislative changes. For further information, call the Children's Bureau at (202) 205-8709