Arizona juvenile courts have taken a series of steps over the past five years to improve the quality of timeliness of court proceedings in child abuse and neglect matters. These efforts encompass both procedural reforms to front-load the early hearing process as well as reforms that require a clearly demarcated permanency hearing and permanency determination process. A comparative analysis of the impact of these changes in four selected counties reveals that child abuse and neglect cases are handled in a more timely manner; that children are spending considerably less time in out-of-home placements; that courts are becoming more specific in the orders generated at dependency hearings (particularly initial hearings); and that the State and federal governments have realized sizable savings in placement costs.
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