Community Symposium: Family Defense and Child Welfare
Family Defense and Child Welfare: Exploring the Role of Representation for Parents in Improving Outcomes for Children
Martin Guggenheim, Esq.
New York University School of Law
Kathleen Creamer, Esq.
Managing Attorney of the Family Advocacy Unit, Community Legal Services
Peer Parent Advocate, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
Maggie Potter, MSW, MSSP
Social Worker in the Family Advocacy Unit, Community Legal Services
Tim Ross, PhD
Applied Researcher, Action Research
Across the country, parents are provided with free legal counsel when their children are removed and placed in foster care. However, the law does not define the type of legal representation to which parents are entitled, nor does it require a certain quality of representation. One form of parental representation – an interdisciplinary model in which parents are represented by a team of attorneys, social workers, and parent advocates – shows promise in producing better outcomes for children and families involved with the child welfare system. A recent study of New York City’s parent representation providers found that children of parents represented by interdisciplinary teams spent less time in foster care. The panel of academic, research and practice experts will present the findings from this important study, provide examples of local programs providing interdisciplinary representation to parents, and discuss the role of quality legal representation for parents in reforming the child welfare system.