Mental Health Advocacy Service
Child Advocacy Program (CAP)
627 North Fourth Street, Suite 1-322
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802
Telephone: (800) 428-5432
Does not use volunteer attorneys
The Child Advocacy Program (CAP) is a program within the State of Louisiana Mental Health Advocacy Service (MHAS). CAP attorneys are appointed by the Court to represent abused, neglected and at-risk children in Child In Need of Care (CINC) proceedings who have been removed from their homes and/or families, and are in the custody of the State through the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). They also represent children who have not been removed from their families, but who are part of a CINC proceeding in which involvement in family services through DCFS is court ordered. MHAS/CAP has offices in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, New Orleans, Mandeville, Pineville, Shreveport and Livingston and represents children in 11 judicial districts which include 19 Parish District Courts and 6 City Courts.
CAP employs full-time attorneys with no outside practice allowed. The attorneys are trained to take a holistic approach to the representation of children. That is, what happens in court is only one part of what is happening in that child’s life. The child could be facing difficulties obtaining an appropriate education or getting appropriate services. The behavioral health expertise of the staff is particularly helpful because many of the children have behavioral health needs. Staff attorneys receive extensive training on these and other issues that occur outside of the courtroom. CAP attorneys attend Family Team Meetings, permanency planning staffings, IEPs (individualized education plan), ISC (interagency service coordination) meetings and quarterly residential treatment team meetings. The network of offices around the state makes it possible to maintain continuous contact with a child; CAP staff where the child is placed stay in contact with the child. Over one third of the attorneys have obtained their Child Welfare Law Specialist Certification from the NACC.