Juvenile Courts

Understanding and improving legal decision-making in child welfare cases

Courts around the country drive much of the public’s action on behalf of children who are at risk of maltreatment. These courts, including the legal and service professionals who work in them, are responsible for critical decisions affecting child safety, permanency, and well-being. Chapin Hall seeks to bring actionable evidence to improving the legal decision-making of these courts.

To date, Chapin Hall has contributed both rigorous experimental research and descriptive findings to this area of program and policy. This research has examined:

  • The impact of professional development for children’s attorneys on attorney behavior and child outcomes.
  • Timing of important decisions about allegations of maltreatment, placement and termination of parental rights.
  • Timing of permanency planning hearings.

This ongoing work on juvenile courts is led by multiple Chapin Hall researchers, including Britany Orlebeke, Kristen Hislop and Dr. Fred Wulczyn and University of Chicago scholar Dr. Mark Courtney.

For more information about juvenile courts and child welfare, please visit our website or contact one of the researchers above.

Attorney Training Impact

This report examines the impact of professional development for children's attorneys on attorney behavior and child outcomes.