Effective Strategies for Courtroom Advocacy on Drug Use and Parenting by Dr. Ron Abrahams and Nancy Rosenbloom


Parent defenders know the challenges of working with pregnant and parenting women who are involved with the child welfare system because of allegations that they use drugs. The child welfare system can seem stacked against these mothers, often removing their babies and imposing expectations and timeframes that can be difficult to meet before reunification can occur. This article recommends a harm reduction approach to advocating for parents accused of child neglect or abuse related to drug or alcohol use. Parent advocates can use this information to educate judges and child welfare agency professionals about harm reduction strategies, and how they can keep families together while promoting good health care and minimizing court and child welfare agency involvement in families' lives.


The Families in Recovery Program

Since its inception in Canada 15 years ago, more than 1,500 women, their babies and families have benefited from the Families in Recovery (FIR) rooming-in program founded by Dr. Abrahams. It is the first combined care maternity unit in North America. The program supports women and their newborns to stabilize and withdraw from substances with the goal of keeping mothers and babies together to improve their health. The fundamental underpinning of FIR is that it is an "apprehension free space" where authorities do not remove children from their parents, and where the staff encourage breastfeeding for mother and baby to bond while supports are put into place for their discharge together from the hospital where they gave birth back into the community. This model has been shown to be cost effective, along with improving health outcomes for both children and mothers. The lessons learned from this work toward ensuring a "healthy sustainable community" provide the basis for this article.

Read the full article<https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_interest/child_law/resources/child_law_practiceonline/january---december-2019/effective-strategies-for-courtroom-advocacy-on-drug-use-and-pare/>




Published in Parents' Attorneys
Friday, 23 August 2019 23:18

Strategy Brief: Strong Families

How does high-quality legal representation for parents support better outcomes?

Quality legal representation in court is an essential safeguard to ensure that pertinent information is conveyed to the court, all parties’ legal rights are well protected, and the wishes and needs of all parties are effectively voiced. In turn, this helps judges make the best, most informed decisions possible in every case.

However, parents facing the potential loss of their children in dependency courts across the country are not afforded the same universal right to counsel as defendants in criminal proceedings. Access to representation for parents involved with the child welfare system who cannot afford to hire a private attorney varies from state to state — and the quality of that representation, when provided, varies even more.

Read the full article from Casey Family Programs: https://caseyfamilypro-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/media/SF_Quality-parent-representation_fnl.pdf


Published in Parents' Attorneys

This tool was created by the Children’s Rights Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this document including DLA Piper LLP (US); Andrew Cohen, Dir. of Appellate Panel, Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, Children & Family Law Division, and Aylin Corapcioglu and Mariel Smith, Legal Interns, Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, Children & Family Law Division; and Krista Ellis, former legal intern, American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law 
American Bar Association. Children’s Rights Litigation Committee.

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 provides States and Tribes opportunities to use federal funding to support children and families and prevent foster care placements. The Act focuses on family engagement and evidence-based practices, and requires judicial oversight of the placement and review of children in residential treatment programs to ensure that children are in the least restrictive placement that meets their needs consistent with their permanency plan.

Please click the attachment link to read the full article.

Fall 2018 - National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Published in Children's Justice Act

The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) became law in February 2018. FFPSA is a landmark child welfare law with the potential to establish significant changes in how the child welfare system is funded and operates across the country. Provisions especially relevant to the legal community are:

Click here for the ABA chart.

Published in Law and Best Practices

Chronicle of Social Change - April 19, 2019

"We work in a field in which those who only know it vicariously believe we are on the wrong side," said one keynote speaker, Martin Guggenheim, a professor of law at New York University. "We work closely with parents who lose the most precious thing in the world (their children} and they lose it to a regime in which the people taking that away from them celebrate their victory.


Published in Parents' Attorneys

The ABA Center on Children and the Law is excited to share that the Family Justice Initiative (FJI) website has launched! The FJI is comprised of a diverse team of partners located throughout the country who are working collaboratively with, the ABA Center on Children and the Law, Children's Law Center of California, the Center for Family Representation, and Casey Family Programs to ensure that every child and every parent has high-quality legal representation when child welfare courts make life-changing decisions about their families. The website is an informative and interactive way to share important information, updates, and resources with child welfare practitioners across the country. Visit the FJI website to learn how you can become a part of the movement! www.familyjusticeinitiative.org<http://www.familyjusticeinitiative.org>

For more information: 

Mimi Laver

Director, Legal Representation

ABA Center on Children and the Law

1050 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 400

Washington, DC 20036


Access to Justice for Children and Families [sigline-register now (002)]

Published in Parents' Attorneys


January 30, 2019

Overcoming Barriers to Making Meaningful Reasonable Efforts Findings
by Judge Leonard Edwards, ret.*

Certain changes in juvenile court practice can lead to more meaningful reasonable efforts findings. Granted, there are many barriers that prevent judges from making these findings. This article explains what reasonable efforts findings the judge must make, some of the most challenging barriers that prevent the judge from making these findings, and a solution that could make reasonable efforts findings more meaningful.

Understanding Reasonable Efforts
“Reasonable efforts” findings are judicial rulings that the child welfare agency (the agency) has or has not provided appropriate services at different times during a child welfare case. According to federal and state laws judges must make reasonable efforts findings at least three distinct times during the case.[1]

The judge must make:

  1. a finding that the social worker provided reasonable efforts (services/interventions) to prevent removal of the child from parental care;
  2. findings that during the reunification period, the social worker provided reasonable efforts (meaningful services) to promote reunification between the parents and their child; and
  1. reasonable efforts findings that the social worker has taken steps to make and finalize alternate permanency plans for each foster child in a timely fashion.[2] The permanent plan could be with parents, a legal guardian, a relative, or an adoptive home.

View the full article. This information is published in the ABA Child Law Practice Today. This is an online resource, click here for this issue and archived issues.


[1] Social Security Act §§471(a)(15), 472(a)(1), 42 U.S.C.A. §§671(a)(15), 672(a)(1)(West Supp. 1981).
[2] 42 U.S.C. §§672(a)(2)(A)(ii); 45 C.F.R. §1356.21(b)(2)(2006).

 This information is published in the ABA Child Law Practice Today. This is an online resource, click here for this issue and archived issues.

Benchcards for Judicial Safety Decision Making

These benchcards were published as an accompanying tool to the book Child Safety: A Guide for Judges and Attorneys. They are also referred to during the Safety Decision Making course presented by the Pelican Center for Children and Families - Court Improvement Program training.  The book can be accessed online. Click hereAuthors: Theresa Roe Lund MSSW and Jennifer L. Renne  Date: 2009

Published in Home Page

We want to share this quick 5-minute overview with you about the Child Safety: A Guide for Judges and Attorneys that was co-authored by Jennifer Renne and Theresa Roe-Lund. We use this textbook and the bench cards in our Safety Decision Making courses that we host in Louisiana. We offer a one-hour webinar and a 6 hour class periodically. Click for the video link.

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