Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 3-26-2018

Document Type



Hesson, H., Hauptman, K., Hazen, K. (2018). An evaluation of FIRST court in the douglas county child welfare system: Improvements in caseworker-attorney relations. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Digital Commons, 1-43.


Copyright Hannah Hesson 2018


The current project examines improvements made in the Douglas County Juvenile Court system since the implementation of FIRST Court in January of 2017. Specifically, this thesis examines how attorney-caseworker interactions have changed since the implementation of this new therapeutic track. Previous research has shown that problem-solving courts are effective in achieving desirable case outcomes by using a therapeutic, rehabilitative approach as opposed to a traditional, punitive approach. Research has also shown that party collaboration and teamwork positively influence case outcomes. The present evaluation used court observations and professional interviews for the purpose of assessing participation and involvement, levels of trust and respect, and perceived level of team membership for both attorneys and caseworkers. Court observations were collected over the course of the first year. Interviews were conducted at the beginning of the implementation of FIRST Court and six months after FIRST Court began. Our findings show that while perceived feelings of trust and respect were not improved for caseworkers, levels of participation and feelings of team membership significantly improved with the implementation of FIRST Court. Implications and limitations are discussed.