241714 Effect of Unified Family Courts on Public Health: Domestic violence, recidivism, foster care case resolution

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 12:30 PM

Frank Sloan, PhD , Health Policy and Management and Economics, Duke University, Durham, NC
Lindsey Chepke, JD , Department of Economics, Duke University, Durham
Kofi Acquah, MA , Department of Economics, Duke University, Durham
Claire Blevins , Department of Economics, Duke University, Durham
Elizabeth Gifford, PhD , Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University, Durham, NC
Twenty-states have recently adopted unified family courts (UFC) as a public policy measure to improve the efficiency of case processing and/or outcomes for the individuals served. Limited rigorous research exists to test the effectiveness of these courts. This study uses North Carolina data from 1997-2008 collected by the Administrative Office of the Courts, Department of Public Instruction, Division of Social Services and information on hospital discharges. Outcomes are examined that reflect potential benefits of UFC implementation including a) recidivism rate for individuals convicted of domestic violence charges b) hospital discharge rates of women and children related to potential abuse categories c) a set of variables related to foster care case resolution, including time in foster care and whether the youth is reunified with the parent, adopted, emancipated, or runs way or dies. In addition, we examine the effect of foster care case resolution on education outcomes including math and reading scores, attendance and grade retention. All models, except for education outcomes, include covariates for the presence of a UFC, a drug treatment court, a youth drug treatment court and a family drug treatment court and county-year fixed effects and time varying county characteristics. Models related to children in foster care also include child characteristics (reason for placement, disability status and family, gender, race/ethnicity and age) and family characteristics (family structure and number of children in the home). Early evidence suggests that UFCs reduce the time spent in foster care and the probability that foster youth are reunified with their parents.

Learning Areas:
Biostatistics, economics
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
To evaluate the role of family courts in affecting the ways in which youth exit from foster care and how that affects their educational outcomes. To demonstrate how court policies such as no drop policies affect recidivism rates among individuals convicted of crimes related to domestic violence.

Keywords: Law, Domestic Violence

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am in investigator on the current research project and a research scientist at Duke University.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.