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

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

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

202-662-1736

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

Published in Parents' Attorneys

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.

Collateral consequences are legal disabilities imposed by law that result from a criminal conviction. The laws that spawn these collateral consequences can create social and economic barriers for those with criminal convictions. They are known to adversely affect adoptions, housing, welfare, immigration, employment, professional licensure, property rights, mobility, and other opportunities open to others. The NICCC is a tool that enables responsible prosecutors, defense counsel, and judges to be aware of the collateral consequences of criminal convictions and to consider whether conviction for particular offenses results in unfair or unintended consequences and whether there are dispositions that would avoid such consequences. It also enables every state and the federal government to take a fresh look at the mass of collateral consequences that have developed over decades and then determine whether some should be eliminated, modified, or clarified. Before the creation of the NICCC, personnel central to case dispositions could not readily determine the extent to which collateral consequences deny those who have completed sentences opportunities for education, housing, and employment. The focus should be on restricting collateral consequences to only those proven necessary for public safety.

This report presents the features and purposes of the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction (NICCC), which was developed by the American Bar Association to make accessible to criminal justice personnel and the general public the sanctions and disqualifications that flow from a criminal conviction but are not part of the actual sentence filed in a criminal case.

American Bar Association, United States of America

Link to document.

The US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families and Office for Civil Rights have compiled documents that provide guidance to ensure that child welfare agencies and state court systems are aware of their responsibilities to protect the civil rights of children and families in the child welfare system. The attached documents will address policy for Title VI, Disabilities, and Disproportionality issues.

Determining if a Child is Safe

The basic and most important determination judges make in child in need of care cases is whether a child(ren) is safe. Critical safety decisions are made when removing a child and determining whether a child should return home. However, without a comprehensive decision-making structure and thorough inquiry, decisions can lead to over and under removal, leaving children unsafe or returning them home too quickly. 

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has implemented a research-based, structured safety assessment process designed to avoid these problems. It is the responsibility of all individuals involved in a case to understand the goal of child safety, the terminology used when discussing safety, and the type of information needed to make good decisions about child safety.

This bulletin was developed in 2016 by the Pelican Center for Children and Families with assistance from ABA Center for Children and the Law and the Pelican Center/Louisiana Child Welfare Training Academy Training and Education Committee members. Please download and share!

 

Published in Law and Best Practices
CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES REVIEWS: How Judges, Court Administrators and Attorneys Should Be Involved 
 
The Children’s Bureau within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families conducts Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) in all States periodically to ensure conformity with Federal child welfare requirements, to gauge the experiences of children, youth, and families receiving State child welfare services, and to assist States in helping children families achieve positive outcomes.
 
The first two rounds of the CFSR were completed in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia between 2001 and 2010, and the third round will take place between 2015 and 2018. www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/monitoring/child-family-services-reviews/round3
 
This paper provides:
•An introduction to CFSRs,
•An explanation of why CFSRs are important to maintaining the momentum of court improvement efforts, and
•Specific suggestions for how courts can become involved in CFSRs.

Click to read the full document.

An Inclusive Approach to Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities
To move toward national policies that will, by extension, lead to better outcomes for youth with disabilities and others, the Federal Partners in Transition (FPT) Workgroup aims to embed equality, diversity, inclusion, and opportunity into its policy work. Doing so ensures our federal interagency strategy “removes disability from the special shelf ” and reflects the underlying spirit of civil rights laws like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act), as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act 2014 (WIOA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which promote the full inclusion, integration, and participation of youth and adults with disabilities. Transition provisions recently enacted by WIOA are consistent with the principles, goals and policy priorities identified in The 2020 Federal Youth Transition Plan: A Federal Interagency Strategy (2020 Plan).
 
To read the full report, click here.
Published in Children's Justice Act
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