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Time to Adjudication

Definition: Average time from filing of the original petition to adjudication.

Purpose: Timeliness. The desired outcome is the expedition of permanency by minimizing the time from the filing of the petition to adjudication.

Courts generally are most familiar with timeliness measures. These measures provide courts with tools to assist them in pinpointing areas where they are doing well and areas where improvement is needed. This measure focuses on the timeliness of the adjudication.

The adjudicatory hearing is important because at this hearing the court decides whether the allegations in a petition are admitted or proved, and, if so, are legally sufficient to support state intervention on behalf of the child.

Method: Select all cases adjudicated within the study time frame, e.g. the past year. Compute the number of days from filing of the original petition to the date of adjudication for each case in the sample. Determine the time to adjudication for the median case and compute an average (mean) as well.

If the jurisdiction records an adjudication for each parent separately, the date of the first adjudication is used.

Analysis and Interpretation:

NCJFCJ Resource Guidelines recommend adjudicatory hearings be completed within 60 days after the child has been removed from the home, regardless of whether the parties agree to extensions.

Required Data Elements: Case number or child identifier,
Date original petition was filed
Date of adjudication.

Alternative Measures:
In situations where the petition is not filed within 48 hours of removal, the jurisdiction should consider using removal date or shelter care hearing data to adjudication as a substitute measure.