Virginia's Judicial System

Court Improvement Program


The Virginia Court Improvement Program (CIP) works in the area of juvenile and family law to integrate best practices into the policy and routines of the court system. CIP focuses on improving the ability of the court system to manage and resolve cases involving children who are abused or neglected or are in foster care, supporting courts to timely and effectively resolve these cases, ensure compliance with federal and state laws and standards, and effectively engage the family in child dependency case processes. CIP staff members participate on state multidisciplinary committees and in initiatives to address the needs of children and families. The Court Improvement Program also implements standards promulgated by the Judicial Council of Virginia governing lawyers who serve as guardians ad litem for children and for incapacitated persons under Title 64.2.

The Court Improvement Program:

  • Conducts assessments of the role, responsibilities, and effectiveness of the courts in processing child dependency cases and supports implementation of identified improvements.
  • Collaborates with the Virginia Department of Social Services to identify and work towards shared goals to increase the safety, permanency, and well-being of children in foster care. Participates in all stages of child welfare program planning and improvement efforts, including the Child and Family Service Plan/Annual Progress and Services Report, Child and Family Services Review, and Title IV-E foster care eligibility review processes within required timeframes.
  • Engages in and promotes collaboration among the courts, court communities, state and local departments of social services, and Indian tribes.
  • Conducts training for judges and the child welfare legal community.
  • Engages in and supports data collection, generation, and analysis of child abuse, neglect, and foster care case processing and encourages data sharing between the courts and local child welfare agencies, as authorized by law.
  • Provides research and analysis of child welfare law and policy within the court system.
  • Examines legislative proposals concerning juvenile and family law to identify implementation issues on behalf of the courts and works to resolve them.
  • Responds to legislative studies directed to the court system on issues concerning children and families.
  • Supports local collaborative efforts to improve permanency planning for children through the integration of best practices into the policy and daily routines of the court and training.

Contact Information

  • Director - Sandra L. Karison
    Phone - (804) 786-6455


Resources and Reference Materials