The Unified Courts for Families (UCF) Program works on issues related to coordination of cases involving families and children. These cases are often complex and in some instances, families may find themselves in different courts or working with various court-connected service providers. Some of California’s courts have improved coordination within and across case types and with service providers by developing ways to appropriately share information; establishing a unified judicial response (such as a one family/one judge or one judicial team approach); or by developing and using technology more effectively. Please contact the Center for more information on current project.
The Unified Courts for Families (UCF) Program was originally established under the Judicial Council's Operational Plan for fiscal years 2000—2001 through 2002—2003. The council's operational plan articulates high-priority, state-level operational objectives for the California courts. Goal IV of the plan, "Quality of Justice and Service to the Public," included the objective of establishing "unified or coordinated family court systems" and specifically authorized six "mentor courts" to be established in the state by June 2003. A second key objective included in Goal IV was to "develop a statewide strategy to reduce differences among courts in the quality and availability of trial court services provided to children, youth, families, and adults requiring court intervention" by drafting "essential service standards" and collecting and testing "promising practices." The UCF Program has supported court efforts through the Mentor Courts Project, and through ongoing techncial assistance, publications that provide information to courts and the public on coordination and unification.
The Mentor Courts Project grant was provided to enable the courts to implement various strategies for coordination and unification of family and juvenile proceedings, including those matters involving members of the same family with cases on multiple court calendars. The processes employed by each mentor court were designed to improve families' experiences by reducing the number of conflicting court orders; increasing the amount of information available to judicial officers; and providing services.
The UCF Program has developed several publications to assist courts with coordination or unification efforts. Hard copies may also be available by contacting CFCC.