Assessment & Development

The mission of Assessment and Development Services (ADS) is to provide leadership in the production and dissemination of innovative and rigorous evidence and practices that align with the agency mission and strategic plan.  ADS achieves this mission through research, policy analysis, program development, training and consultation to improve processes and practices within the Family Court and throughout Family Court Services. 

Director:  Pamela Behle, PhD

Research and Development

The purpose of this department is to provide accurate data and information to help Family Court Services Administration develop policy and make decisions on an empirical basis; and to conduct research on topics that advance knowledge in the areas of juvenile justice, family justice, case processing and related topics.  This department also provides innovative leadership in advising Family Court Services Administration in selecting and guiding implementation of evidence-based programming and services.  For additional information, contact the Management Analyst, Justine Greve, at (816) 881-6549.

Child Protection and Permanency Unit

The child Protection and Permanency Unit (CPPU) was established as a pilot initiative in January of 2019 and serves the Cradles to Crayons docket facilitating the protection and permanent placement of children ages 0-3 under the Court's jurisdiction for the reasons of abuse and neglect.

Permanency and Protection Officers (PPOs) in the CPPU assist parents in connecting to services and overcoming barriers in their quest for reunification. PPOs assist families in connecting to parent education, psychological and psychiatric evaluations, transitional living referrals, vocational assistance, child development assessments, individual counseling, substance abuse treatment (in and outpatient) and other services as applicable. For additional information about Cradles to Crayons, contact Program Manager, Adrienne James at 816-881-6517.

Family Drug Court

The Family Drug Court Program (established April 1998) provides judicially managed community-based services, close supervision and specialized treatment to parents whose substance abuse places their children at risk of substantially increased intervention by the justice system. 

The primary goal for the Family Drug Court (FDC) is to stop substance abuse by parents which threatens the safety and permanency of their dependent children. 

Specific eligibility criteria govern admission to the program.  Services offered to participants include substance abuse treatment, mental health assessment, academic and vocational assessment, transitional living, and other services as needed or required.  For additional information, contact the program manager, Brittani Williams at 816-435-4757.


Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)

The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) began 25 years ago to reduce the reliance on detention for court-involved youth.  Detention has long-lasting negative consequences for juvenile development as well as public safety.  It also has implications for racial justice, as minority youth are often detained at higher rates than their white counterparts.

JDAI provides training and technical assistance to over 300 sites across the country.  Core strategies include using risk assessments and objective detention admission criteria, expanding alternatives to detention, reducing the number of youth detained for rule violations, collaborating with community partners, and using data to guide decision making.

Since becoming involved in the initiative in 2006, Jackson County has redefined detention as a continuum - adding a non-secure residential facility and home detention with electronic monitoring.  The Court saw a 67% reduction in the average daily population of detention between 2006 and 2019 with no increase in the rate of failure to appear at hearings or new charges while awaiting adjudication.

Research & Development monitors a number of metrics related to detention, and an Executive Steering Committee consisting of community stakeholders meets twice a year to review the Court's progress.

For more information about JDAI, see or contact the JDAI Site Coordinator, Justine Greve, at (816) 881-6549.

Judicial Engagement Team (JET) Initiative

In 2015, at the request of the Missouri Supreme Court, the Jackson County Family Court began a multi-year collaboration with consultants from the Casey Family Programs Foundation. The purpose of this initiative was to improve time to permanency and safely reduce the number of children in foster care. For more information on Casey's efforts to promote timely permanency, see


Parents for Parents Initiative

Jackson County Family Court is partnering with a local agency to implement a pilot program titled "Parents for Parents." This evidence-based program trains parents who have successfully reunified with their children to provide peer support and mentorship to help parents with new cases navigate the child welfare system. These Parent Allies help connect families to resources and provide emotional support during this difficult period. The program provides a Dependency 101 class to give parents a broader understanding of the Family Court, Children's Division, and other organizations involved in their case. Similar programs implemented throughout the country have reduced the numbers of parents who have had rights terminated, increased the rate of family reunification, and increased parental engagement with the court process.