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Time to Dispositi

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

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 to disposition.

The disposition is important because this is the hearing court in which the court decides whether the child welfare agency or another party is given custody of the child for an extended period of time, such as the time of the next review or permanency hearing. NCJFCJ Resource Guidelines suggest that the disposition should be a separate proceeding from adjudication to ensure focus on the future of the child.

Method: Select all cases disposed 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 disposition for each case in the sample. Determine the time to disposition for the median case and compute an average (mean) as well.

Analysis and Interpretation:

NCJFCJ Resource Guidelines recommend dispositional hearings be completed within 30 days of adjudication, except where extension of time are required for good cause, such as newly discovered evidence, unavoidable delays in obtaining critical witnesses, and unforeseen personal emergencies.

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

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.