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Earlier Parental Representation: Engaging Parents in Child Welfare Cases Judge Darlene Byrne Judge Darlene Byrne –Travis County Model Court for Children.

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Presentation on theme: "Earlier Parental Representation: Engaging Parents in Child Welfare Cases Judge Darlene Byrne Judge Darlene Byrne –Travis County Model Court for Children."— Presentation transcript:

1 Earlier Parental Representation: Engaging Parents in Child Welfare Cases Judge Darlene Byrne Judge Darlene Byrne –Travis County Model Court for Children and Families Vivek S. Sankaran Vivek S. Sankaran –Clinical Assistant Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School October 22, 2010

2 Parent Representation Pilot Project A Project of the Travis County Model Court for Children and Families Lead Judge, Darlene Byrne

3 Background – Travis County, TX Many parents’ first contact with the court system is the first court hearing, which occurs 14 days after the removal of the child. Many parents’ first contact with the court system is the first court hearing, which occurs 14 days after the removal of the child. In majority of cases, that’s when parents request appointed attorney. In majority of cases, that’s when parents request appointed attorney. Indigency/Eligibility is usually determined at that 1 st hearing. Indigency/Eligibility is usually determined at that 1 st hearing.

4 Background – Travis County, TX For Parents, we have: For Parents, we have: –Travis County Office of Parental Representation 4 Attorneys & Support staff 4 Attorneys & Support staff Usually Represent the Primary Parent Usually Represent the Primary Parent –Private Attorney Appointment Wheel Attorneys Attorneys Subset of these attorneys were trained to take cases off the Pilot Project Subset of these attorneys were trained to take cases off the Pilot Project

5 Why Early Appointment? OJJDP says: OJJDP says: “The earlier the appointment occurs, the sooner the interests of the parent begin to be represented. Early appointment may enable the case to proceed faster, minimizing the length of separation between parent and child and clearing the way for delivery of needed services earlier rather than later.” i] “The earlier the appointment occurs, the sooner the interests of the parent begin to be represented. Early appointment may enable the case to proceed faster, minimizing the length of separation between parent and child and clearing the way for delivery of needed services earlier rather than later.” i] i] [i] U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Technical Guide, Published December 2008, From “Measure 3D: Early Appointment of Counsel for Parents”, page 104. Available online at: [i] U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Technical Guide, Published December 2008, From “Measure 3D: Early Appointment of Counsel for Parents”, page 104. Available online at: [i]

6 Tracking Appointments PM 3D – Early Appointment of Counsel for Parents PM 3D – Early Appointment of Counsel for Parents Measures how early parents’ advocates are appointed and whether these appointments are made early enough in the process to allow for meaningful participation in the first hearing.[i] Measures how early parents’ advocates are appointed and whether these appointments are made early enough in the process to allow for meaningful participation in the first hearing.[i][i] [i] See Generally “Measure 3D: Early Appointment of Counsel for Parents” Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Technical Guide, Published December 2008 by U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, available online at: [i] See Generally “Measure 3D: Early Appointment of Counsel for Parents” Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Technical Guide, Published December 2008 by U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, available online at: [i]

7 Q’s - What are Benefits of Early Appointments ? –more informed decision making? –improved parent understanding and involvement in the filed case? –improved family finding efforts earlier in the case? –reduced impact of disproportionality in the child welfare system in Travis County? –cost savings to the taxpayers of the County in the area of legal fees paid for indigent representation?

8 In a Nutshell The Parent Representation Pilot Project is an Effort to assign pilot project attorneys to all parents named in a CPS petition as quickly as possible after the signing of the order authorizing removal of the child or court-ordered services. The Parent Representation Pilot Project is an Effort to assign pilot project attorneys to all parents named in a CPS petition as quickly as possible after the signing of the order authorizing removal of the child or court-ordered services.

9 History of Pilot Project Started in September, 2009 Started in September, 2009 –Initially was to Expire in October, 2009 Continued through April, 2010 Continued through April, 2010 Total of 70 cases and 151 Parent Appointments. Total of 70 cases and 151 Parent Appointments.

10 Pilot Appointments are Limited in Scope These pilot project attorney appointments are limited in scope to allow only for consultation with the parent client regarding their eligibility for appointed counsel. These pilot project attorney appointments are limited in scope to allow only for consultation with the parent client regarding their eligibility for appointed counsel.

11 Appointment Ltd in Scope –ONLY for purpose of consultation regarding eligibility for an attorney under Texas Family Code § –Includes assistance with completing an affidavit of indigence.

12 Appointment Ltd in Scope Does NOT include: Does NOT include: –filing of an answer –any other action, appearance, or representation taken beyond the presentation of an Affidavit of Indigence to the Court; or –any in-court appearance.

13 Appointment Ltd in Duration EXPIRES AUTOMATICALLY at 8:00am on the Morning of the First Hearing

14 Pilot Appointment can become Full Appointment If the parent is eligible for an appointed attorney, the pilot project creates a mechanism to allow full appointment to be made easier and more quickly. If the parent is eligible for an appointed attorney, the pilot project creates a mechanism to allow full appointment to be made easier and more quickly. Parent can arrive at the First Hearing prepared with counsel Parent can arrive at the First Hearing prepared with counsel

15 How it Works Every Day at around 2:00pm, Judge Byrne holds Ex Parte Hearings on CPS cases. Every Day at around 2:00pm, Judge Byrne holds Ex Parte Hearings on CPS cases. All parents named in the Petition (including Alleged Fathers and Presumed fathers) are provided a Pilot Project Attorney. All parents named in the Petition (including Alleged Fathers and Presumed fathers) are provided a Pilot Project Attorney.

16 Certain Cases Excluded: the Department is only seeking an Order in Aid of Investigation; the Department is only seeking an Order in Aid of Investigation; the allegations are a Refusal to Accept Parental Responsibility; the allegations are a Refusal to Accept Parental Responsibility; the reason for the allegations of abuse or neglect result in a simultaneous criminal investigation; or the reason for the allegations of abuse or neglect result in a simultaneous criminal investigation; or Judge Byrne does not preside over the ex parte hearing. Judge Byrne does not preside over the ex parte hearing.

17 How Appointments are Made in the Pilot Primary Parents are assigned to OPR on a Pilot Basis. Primary Parents are assigned to OPR on a Pilot Basis. All other parents named in the Petition are assigned an attorney from a List of Pilot Project Attorneys. All other parents named in the Petition are assigned an attorney from a List of Pilot Project Attorneys.

18 Notification of Appointment Judge Byrne or staff notifies the District Attorney’s office, the OPR, each appointed pilot project attorney and the AAL of these attorney appointments, usually SAME DAY. Judge Byrne or staff notifies the District Attorney’s office, the OPR, each appointed pilot project attorney and the AAL of these attorney appointments, usually SAME DAY. The District Attorney’s office s electronic versions of the relevant pleadings in each case to all appointed counsel and the court. The District Attorney’s office s electronic versions of the relevant pleadings in each case to all appointed counsel and the court.

19 Actions by Pilot Attorney Attorney obtains contact information for their client from the Petition, the Department, or other reasonable means. Attorney obtains contact information for their client from the Petition, the Department, or other reasonable means. Attorney attempts to contact client to determine whether client desires to request court appointed counsel under Texas Family Code § Attorney attempts to contact client to determine whether client desires to request court appointed counsel under Texas Family Code §

20 If the Pilot Project attorney makes contact with the parent and the parent desires to request a court- appointed attorney, –Attorney Assists the client in executing an “Affidavit of Indigence and Request for Court- Appointed Attorney”. –Attorney Submits Affidavit to Court Staff via (with cc’s to all other parties).

21 If the attorney can’t make contact w/ the client before the Expiration of the Limited Purpose Appointment, 1. Attorney should not appear at the first hearing. The attorney may present the Court with a proposed dismissal order or allow the limited- purpose appointment to expire on its own terms.

22 Results so Far Of the 151 Pilot Appointments… Of the 151 Pilot Appointments… –56.6%: Full Apptmt BEFORE 1 st Hearing –19.8%: Full Apptmt DAY OF 1 st Hearing –1.3%: Hired Private Counsel –0.66% Did NOT QUALIFY for Full Apptmt –9.9% - Pilot Apptmt Expired and No indication in file that Parent ever received Full Appointment

23 Results so Far Of the 9.9% (15 Appointments) - for whom Pilot Apptmt Expired and No indication in file that Parent ever received Full Appointment… Of the 9.9% (15 Appointments) - for whom Pilot Apptmt Expired and No indication in file that Parent ever received Full Appointment… 1 Parent was ruled out as the Father 1 Parent was ruled out as the Father 1 case was Dismissed at 1 st hearing 1 case was Dismissed at 1 st hearing 1 case was Transferred out of Jurisdiction at the 1 st hearing 1 case was Transferred out of Jurisdiction at the 1 st hearing Majority of rest appear to be absentee parents Majority of rest appear to be absentee parents

24 Comparison of Results Pilot Project: Pilot Project: 89% of Parents Represented by Counsel 89% of Parents Represented by Counsel –77.5% Attorney Apptd ON or BEFORE Day of 1 st Hrg –10.5% Attorney Apptd AFTER 1 st Hrg 10.6% of Parents NOT Represented by Counsel 10.6% of Parents NOT Represented by Counsel –All Cases (including Pilot Project): 75% of Parents Represented by Counsel 75% of Parents Represented by Counsel –67.3% Attorney Apptd ON or BEFORE Day of 1 st Hrg –8% Attorney Apptd AFTER 1 st Hrg 24.7% of Parents NOT Represented by Counsel 24.7% of Parents NOT Represented by Counsel

25 Impact on Relative Placement For Pilot Project cases: For Pilot Project cases: –Of 90 children in cps conservatorship 58.9% in parent / relative / kinship placement 58.9% in parent / relative / kinship placement 41.1% in other (non-relative) placement 41.1% in other (non-relative) placement For All of Travis County*: For All of Travis County*: –Of 702 children in cps conservatorship 31.7% in parent / relative / kinship placement 31.7% in parent / relative / kinship placement 68.3% in other (non-relative) placement 68.3% in other (non-relative) placement (Source – Texas Department of Family and Protective Services – Data is Snapshot of Child Placements on 7/31/10) (Source – Texas Department of Family and Protective Services – Data is Snapshot of Child Placements on 7/31/10)

26 One Lesson Learned – New Affidavit of Indigence Aff First Developed in September, 2007 Aff First Developed in September, 2007 Now a few Changes: Now a few Changes: –Added lines for parents to include their mailing address and telephone number. –Modified the question which asks for # of dependents –Modified the question which asks for # of dependents –Removed a confusing question. –Included a line specifically for TANF, foodstamps, and/or WIC

27 Cost of Pilot Average Cost $ per Appointment: Average Cost $ per Appointment: 2.68 Avg Atty Hours at $75/hour 2.68 Avg Atty Hours at $75/hour Plus $2.75 Avg Addtl Fees per Apptmt Plus $2.75 Avg Addtl Fees per Apptmt

28 Hope is that this Investment will Improve Outcomes… Still Tracking Only 13 of the 70 Cases have Closed to date… Only 13 of the 70 Cases have Closed to date… –3 due to Dismissal –9 due to Legal Permanency Relative Placement –1 due to Transfer out of Jurisdiction

29 We will continue to analyze results for… –Lessons Learned Anecdotal vs. Data / Evidence-based Anecdotal vs. Data / Evidence-based –Challenges –Benefits –Trends/Costs over time

30 For More Information on the Travis County Parent Representation Pilot Project… Please contact Judge Byrne’s Court Operations Officer: Please contact Judge Byrne’s Court Operations Officer: Ms. Rene Salinas Ph. (512)

31 THE DETROIT CENTER FOR FAMILY ADVOCACY AN INITIATIVE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN LAW SCHOOL HTTP :// WWW. LAW. UMICH. EDU / CENTERSANDPROGRAMS / CCL / CFA

32 Old Paradigm – Nancy Colon’s Story Safety Concern Removal Foster Care

33 New Paradigm Safety Concern Collaborative Problem Solving Child remains with family

34 A Unique Approach: Upstream Advocacy to Reduce the Number of Children in Foster Care Old Model: Providing parents legal assistance after families are separated Old Model: Providing parents legal assistance after families are separated Comprehensive legal and social services can prevent the number of children that enter the foster care system Comprehensive legal and social services can prevent the number of children that enter the foster care system New Model: Providing families with Multidisciplinary Advocacy prior to and in order to prevent family separation New Model: Providing families with Multidisciplinary Advocacy prior to and in order to prevent family separation –Attorney –Social Worker –Parent Advocate

35 Why is pre-petition advocacy important?

36 Who are we Founded in July 2009 Founded in July 2009 Project of the University of Michigan Law School, Child Advocacy Law Clinic Project of the University of Michigan Law School, Child Advocacy Law Clinic Funded by private/public partnership Funded by private/public partnership Based in Detroit – focus on the Osborn neighborhood Based in Detroit – focus on the Osborn neighborhood Provide multidisciplinary legal, social work, parent advocacy to families to reduce the number of children in foster care Provide multidisciplinary legal, social work, parent advocacy to families to reduce the number of children in foster care Staff – 3 attorneys, social worker, parent advocate, legal assistant Staff – 3 attorneys, social worker, parent advocate, legal assistant Two types of cases – prevention and permanency Two types of cases – prevention and permanency Close collaboration with the DHS Close collaboration with the DHS Evaluation Component Evaluation Component

37 GUIDING PRINCIPLES Too many children enter care Too many children stay in care Treatment of children while in care is inadequate Too many legal orphans Prospects of children aging out of care are troubling Any attempt to reform foster care must begin with reducing the number of children in foster care Kids need families. Families need not be perfect.

38 What we do – Prevention Cases Provide legal, social work and parent advocacy to parents to prevent the unnecessary entry of children into foster care. Provide legal, social work and parent advocacy to parents to prevent the unnecessary entry of children into foster care. Criteria Criteria -CPS substantiates case as Category I, II or III -Child(ren) residing with parent, guardian or custodian -Legal services are expected to help parent, guardian or custodian provide a safe and stable home for the child

39 Common Legal Barriers Landlord-Tenant Landlord-Tenant Public Benefits Public Benefits Domestic Violence Domestic Violence Special education Special education Custody Custody Guardianship Guardianship Power of Attorney Power of Attorney Expungements/Criminal History Expungements/Criminal History

40 Social Work Barriers Housing Housing Public Benefits Public Benefits Day Care Day Care Securing Move-In Expenses Securing Move-In Expenses Appliances / Furniture Appliances / Furniture Utilities “Shut-Off” / Account Openings Utilities “Shut-Off” / Account Openings Employment Employment Medical Insurance Medical Insurance Educational Needs Educational Needs Afterschool Programs Afterschool Programs

41 Where we get our cases from Referral Sources (Non-Exhaustive) Referral Sources (Non-Exhaustive) –DHS – MAIN SOURCE –Court –Private child-placing agencies –Self-referrals –Family Members/Friends –Mental Health Professionals –Community Agencies –Churches/Clergy

42 Our Team - Attorney Develops legal strategy to address concerns of the DHS Develops legal strategy to address concerns of the DHS Advocates on Behalf of Client with DHS Advocates on Behalf of Client with DHS Initiates Court Action on Behalf of Client Initiates Court Action on Behalf of Client Negotiates/Advocates on Behalf of Client with Adverse Parties Negotiates/Advocates on Behalf of Client with Adverse Parties

43 Our Team – Social Worker Identifies Resources for Client Identifies Resources for Client Makes Referrals for Client Makes Referrals for Client Advocates on Behalf of Client to Obtain Resources Advocates on Behalf of Client to Obtain Resources Provides Emotional Support Provides Emotional Support Promotes Client Empowerment Promotes Client Empowerment

44 Our Team – Parent Advocate Helps Clients Understand and Navigate “The System” Helps Clients Understand and Navigate “The System” Helps Lawyer and Social Worker “Read” Client Helps Lawyer and Social Worker “Read” Client Helps Team Members Understand Practical Implications of Situation Helps Team Members Understand Practical Implications of Situation Provides Emotional Support Provides Emotional Support Facilitates Client Empowerment Facilitates Client Empowerment Leads the “parent café” Leads the “parent café”

45 Client-centered approach “What can you do to live the life you have always imagined for you and your children?” “What can you do to live the life you have always imagined for you and your children?” “How can we help you get there?” “How can we help you get there?”

46 Examples of our work

47 Early Data - Prevention Served 68 children/23 families Served 68 children/23 families All children substantiated by the DHS as being abused or neglected All children substantiated by the DHS as being abused or neglected Closed the cases of 9 families Closed the cases of 9 families None of the children have entered the foster care system

48 The Detroit Center for Family Advocacy (CFA) Contact/Visit Us Contact/Visit Us –3031 W. Grand Blvd, Suite 440, Detroit, MI –Osborn Satellite Office, East McNichols, – (phone) –http://www.law.umich.edu/centersandpr ograms/ccl/cfa


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