These guidelines reflect the principles that should guide a judge's work, and they provide the tools needed to implement these principles. The guidelines cover all stages of the court process in child abuse and neglect cases, from the preliminary protective hearing until juvenile and family court involvement has ended. The guidelines assume that the court will remain involved in a case until after the child has been safely returned home; placed in a new, secure, and legally permanent home (either through adoption or legal custody); or the court's jurisdiction has otherwise ended. The guidelines focus on the court process rather than substantive case law. They do not offer criteria for State agency or court intervention in the lives of families; rather they are limited to matters of judicial procedure. The guidelines specify the characteristics of each hearing and outline needed procedural steps, identify the key decisions that must be made, specify when each hearing should occur, and describe the judge's role at that stage of the hearing process. Although the original guidelines included specific time requirements for each hearing, the enhanced guidelines are not prescriptive about hearing times. The time recommendations are best-practice recommendations intended to be a guide for judges and court administrators in estimating docket time, judicial time, and ancillary court staff time. These guidelines are not just instructive for judges. They can also inform representatives of other child welfare system stakeholders, such as attorneys and child welfare caseworkers.