Family Division Statistics
The statistical unit of the Family Division was created in 1989. It has at its disposal an electronic data system called the Family Automated Case Tracking System (FACTS). FACTS was developed by the Information Systems Division in conjunction with the Family Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts and was designed to assist counties in case tracking and case management of both family and probation cases. The primary goal of the system is to streamline case processing and to provide on-line management, case history, and state inquiries. FACTS can generate management and statistical reports as well as court calendars, subpoenas and notices. FACTS was first implemented in Atlantic County in May of 1988. Ocean, Hudson and Monmouth followed in succession as Pilot counties. FACTS is fully implemented in all 21 counties. We are developing an enhancement to the FACTS system - Rapid Case Processing - that will enable family division staff to record the results of a proceeding directly into the FACTS system as the proceeding is being conducted in the court room. Juvenile Delinquency cases will be the first Family Division docket type to use Rapid Case Processing. It is anticipated that following the successful implementation of rapid case processing for Juvenile Delinquency actions, this functionality will be expanded to include the other Family Division Docket Types. FACTS has the capability to:
- Provide on-line capability of calendaring, scheduling and noticing of cases.
- Build and maintain a complete family history in relation to court cases and family member involvement in the court system on a statewide basis.
- Create a document retrieval system which will emulate the documents contained in the case file folder.
- Provide capability to capture all data to provide for statistical reporting.
- Provide information exchange with other automated systems outside of FACTS.
- Record and process all financial transactions such as filing fees. Provides for security and control of that data.
- Provide the ability to search for records involving the same parties in other counties.
During Court Year 1996, the Statistics Unit of the Family Division has continued to review and analyze reported data as part of an on-going overall quality initiative. The Family Division is deeply committed to improving the quality of trial court statistics. The Family Division feels very strongly that complete and reliable data are essential in order to evaluate trial court operations and plan for the needs of the Division. The Family Division has continued to monitor and evaluate compliance with the changes in statistical reporting policies and procedures which were implemented in Court Year 1992 for five of the ten docket types that fall within its jurisdiction. (These five docket types consist of Dissolution, Juvenile Delinquency, Domestic Violence, and Criminal, Quasi-Criminal and Other Matters.) This effort involves reviewing reported data, contacting Family Division Managers and/or report preparers regarding identified problems and working with trial court staff to resolve existing reporting problems. In some instances, counties must prepare and submit revised statistical report forms because of the problems which are identified through such reviews. These reviews are conducted via telephone conversations as well as through on-site visits. Staff from the Family Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts has conducted site visits in some counties to meet with Family Division Managers and court staff about statistical reporting policies and procedures. This effort is on-going. To assist in monitoring trial court data, the Family Division distributes compiled data to the Conference of Family Division Managers on a regular basis and analyzes the data through docket-type subcommittees.
During Court Year 1996, the Family Division has continued to work closely with the FACTS project team, as well as with FACTS users to address statistical issues and questions which arise and to resolve case processing issues which affect statistics. In addition, the Family Division continues to support initiatives which were begun during previous Court Years. Such initiatives include the production and distribution of FACTS Data Quality Reports and the production and distribution of Child Placement Review Management Reports.
Under the FACTS Data Quality initiative, which began in the fall of 1993, various exception and informational reports are provided to Family Division Managers and their staff from FACTS counties. The reports are produced on a bi-monthly cycle. The reports identify cases which appear to have different types of data problems and trial court staff are asked to research the cases and correct any information which is determined to be erroneous. Reaction to this initiative has been extremely positive. Although these reports are presently limited to juvenile delinquency actions, plans are underway to expand the data quality initiative to include other Family Division docket types that are processed on FACTS.
The distribution of Child Placement Review Management Reports began in Court Year 1993, when Administrative Office of the Courts staff wrote computer programs to extract essential information from the Child Placement Review Profile System Database. These reports were developed to assist the Family Division in improving the quality of the data which it collects and maintains on children in placement in New Jersey. AOC staff have worked closely with Child Placement Review Coordinators to ensure that the information which is maintained for each county in the Child Placement Review Profile System Database is complete and accurate. The management reports are distributed to Family Division Managers, CPR Coordinators and others to assist counties in tracking CPR cases and in monitoring and evaluating the information in the database. We continue to receive very positive feedback from the coordinators regarding this effort. They are very pleased to be receiving the management reports and are effectively using the reports to identify missing and/or erroneous data and to provide the Administrative Office of the Courts with necessary information to address the identified problems.
Many new initiatives are being planned for implementation in the coming months. These initiatives include:
- The electronic transfer of aggregate monthly data from FACTS to the Monthly Trial Court Statistical Database, to obviate the need for monthly reports to be transmitted to the AOC and data entered by AOC staff. This process will be more efficient and will free up staff to perform other needed tasks related to research and data quality.
- The development of various computer program to be run against FACTS to monitor compliance with established policies and procedures.
- The development of various computer programs which will be run against FACTS to obtain specific, quantitative information about Family Division actions which will support our research and strategic planning needs.
- The development and implementation of enhanced training programs (in cooperation with ISD) for FACTS users which focus on proper case processing procedures and standards for recording information in the automated system.