March 14, 2017 Practice Points

Ensuring Quality Counsel in Child Welfare Cases for Children, Parents, and the Agency

By Cathy Krebs

The HHS Administration for Children and Families Children’s Bureau has issued an information memorandum focused on providing high-quality legal representation for all parties in child welfare court proceedings. The memorandum emphasizes that quality representation is essential to a well-functioning child welfare system given the gravity of the decisions made by the court. It discusses relevant research, outlines best practices, and identifies strategies to ensure quality representation.

The memorandum notes that there is a consensus in the field that children and parents require legal representation in child welfare cases and discusses how agency attorneys provide important oversight and ensure that the agency presents evidence of its diligence in making reasonable efforts to reunite families. In fact, quality representation of all three parties provides needed accountability of the system. The memorandum also discusses standards, caseloads, ethics and other issues related to quality representation.

Cathy Krebs is the committee manager for the ABA Section of Litigation's Children's Rights Litigation Committee in Washington, D.C. She is also the newsletter editor for the committee.


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