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Dependency Court Improvement Program


2012 Dependency Benchbook


Following an extensive development process, the Dependency Court Improvement Panel (comprised of judges, magistrates, and child welfare partners) and the Office of Court Improvement (OCI) published the 2012 Dependency Benchbook. This benchbook presents a family-centered approach to improving court practice – an approach that focuses on judicial leadership and oversight; substantive and timely hearings; promising practices covering a wide range of current, relevant topics; family engagement; and collaboration among all key partners in the dependency system.

The complete Dependency Benchbook is available as a Word document (with an interactive Table of Contents), and as a PDF document (with a navigation panel). These versions are ADA/508 compliant. The 2011 benchbook is also available as a 350+ page printable PDF (warning: this version is not 508-compliant). The DCIP team is in the process of creating a printable version of the 2012 benchbook, and it will be made available upon completion.


Sections of the benchbook are as follows:

  1. Overview: What is the Benchbook? Why Use the Benchbook? How to Use the Benchbook [+]

  2. Dependency Cases in the Context of Unified Family Court (UFC) [+]

  3. Unified Family Court Issues that Occur in Dependency Cases [+]

  4. Family-Centered Practice [+]

  5. Service and Treatment Considerations [+]

  6. Child Safety Considerations [+]

  7. Five Federal Laws and the National Compact [+]

  8. General Legal Issues [+]

  9. Dependency Hearing Benchcards [+]

  10. Front Pocket Materials [+]