In November 2020, the Family Center of the Conciliation Court (FCCC) within the Arizona Superior Court in Pima County, was awarded a Pandemic Response and Recovery grant from the State Justice Institute (SJI) to implement the Court’s vision of converting what was an employee-led, in-person parent education course to an on-demand, online, and self-paced e-Learning program. Grant funds were used to design, launch, and evaluate the e-Learning program and the process used to convert the course from an in-person format to an on-demand, virtual platform. In addition, doing so would enhance access and convenience to parents in the long-term, post pandemic. The Court also anticipated cost savings, gaining efficiencies, and building internal capacity (e.g., to convert other curricula to virtual, self-paced formats) as a result of this project.
FCCC began providing the state mandated Domestic Relations Education on Children’s Issues Course (A.R.S. §25-351), Microsoft Word – 2012-08.doc (azcourts.gov), known more commonly as the Parent Education Program, in house as of July 2007. Parent Education (pima.gov). The course is required for all parents going through a legal separation, divorce or paternity action who have minor children. Pre-COVID-19 pandemic, Parent Education classes were delivered in both English and Spanish by FCCC staff during the week, some evenings, and on weekends. More than 3,700 parents annually participated in these in-person classes.
In March 2020, mandatory parent education classes offered by the FCCC were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. This disruption gridlocked Family Law calendars because, pursuant to Arizona statute, parties involved in domestic relations cases are required to complete parent education training before legal processes can advance. Though course delivery was re-instated in July 2020 using Microsoft Teams, access limitations remained, resulting in continued domestic relations case backlog.
An interdisciplinary committee of Superior Court staff was involved in the design, development, and pilot implementation with the support of the Arizona Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). The Court and PRAXIS/Dr. Brenda Wagenknecht-Ivey collaborated on the project with PRAXIS taking the lead on the evaluation. At the inception of the pilot, one hundred and sixty-nine parents enrolled in the on-demand course between August 12th – October 14th, 2021. They comprised the pilot population; their responses to the end-of-course evaluation were used in this evaluation.
Superior Courts in Arizona use a standard set of questions developed by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to assess the quality and effectiveness of parent education programs presented across the state, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes and the Arizona Code of Judicial Administration. A few additional questions were added to the evaluation for purposes of this project and the pilot. They included:
- Convenience of completing the online, e-Learning parenting class.
- Ease of logging in to and navigating the e-Learning parenting modules.
- Efficiency of completing the Court mandated requirement through the e-Learning parenting class.
- Likelihood of recommending the e-Learning parenting course to a friend or colleague who also is required to complete the course.
Experience of Parents – Detailed Results
Parents who opted into the pilot and completed the e-Learning course overwhelmingly rated their experiences positively.
- Relevance: 87% agreed that the class material was relevant to their personal situation
- Easy to Understand: 96% agreed that the class materials were presented in a manner that was easy to understand
- Convenience: 95% agreed they were able to complete the class modules at times that were convenient for them
- Easy to navigate: 86% agreed it was easy to log-in/ navigate through the e-Learning modules
- Efficiency: 95% agreed the e-Learning class was an efficient way to complete the Court mandated requirements
- Key Finding: Parents were very satisfied with their experience, and most are extremely likely to recommend the e-Learning course to others.
All parents who completed the on-demand E-Learning parenting class were required to complete the course evaluation before receiving a Certificate of Completion. The course evaluation was built into the on-line program and parents were automatically directed to the evaluation questions upon successfully passing the end-of-course quiz (with 80% accuracy).
In addition to the above, in October 2021, Dr. Joi Hollis, FCCC Director, and committee co-chair, shared progress and demonstrated the e-Learning course to Arizona (AOC) staff, judicial officers, court administrators and Conciliation Court directors across Arizona. The presentations and updates to multiple audiences generated considerable interest in this project, with many other Arizona Courts expressing an interest in making it available to their court users. The Court is now working with the AOC as it plans to expand the e-Learning program to counties across Arizona and invest in developing a Spanish-speaking version.
As of February 2022, with the pilot now complete, the on-line version of the parent education program remains in high demand and has over 900 registrants since its inception in August 2021. For additional questions regarding the evaluation results, contact PRAXIS Consulting/Dr. Brenda Wagenknecht-Ivey at firstname.lastname@example.org.