Client: A Large Metropolitan Superior Court in California

The Challenge

The court needed a long-range strategy for projecting staffing needs for family and juvenile mediation and evaluation services.  Case filings, case complexity and the county population had grown and judges and staff of Family Court Services were requesting staffing increases.  The court realized that increases were necessary but did not have a model to demonstrate the extent of the requirements.  The court also wanted to balance its need for a county-wide staffing model with flexibility to address regional differences and the unique needs of families.  Finally, the court was seeking recommendations for improving service delivery.

Our Approach

We conducted focus groups of mediators, evaluators and family law judicial officers; benchmarked the court’s mediation and evaluation practices against those in eight large California courts; analyzed mediator and evaluator use of time; evaluated the effectiveness of calendaring procedures and considered service expansion options.

The Results

We provided the court with:

  • A formula for determining current and future family and dependency mediator staffing needs by location, based on workload and projected population growth.
  • Recommended improvements to calendaring to reduce variability in the daily mediator workload, increase the time available to conduct case research, and reduce the no-show rate of parties.
  • Improved intake methods to identify specific case circumstances, such as parties with multiple cases in the court system, those presenting issues of domestic violence or litigants needing multi-lingual services.
  • Means for assessing cases so that they can be handled at the most effective point, by the most appropriate staff (i.e. clerical versus professional staff), and provided with targeted services.
  • Recommendations to improve parties’ understanding of court events.
  • Protocols for more streamlined and accurate statistical data-gathering.

Consultants: Kate Harrison, Wendy Constantine and Dr. Ian Shepherd

For more information about this project, please click here to request the Executive Summary.

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