Questions and Answers about the Children’s Representation Program
1. What does the Children’s Representation Program Do?
The Children’s Representation Program is charged with the implementation and oversight of the right to counsel for dependent children pursuant to RCW 13.34.100(6)
2. What are the requirements of RCW 13.34.100(6)?
- Judicial officers are required to appoint at public expense an attorney to dependent children who have been legally free (both parents’ rights terminated) for six months.
- Children of all ages qualify for representation under this law
- No application or motion need be made for the appointment of an attorney. It must occur automatically when the child is legally free for six months.
- Subject to the availability of funding, the state must pay for the costs of legal services provided by appointed under (2)(6)(a) of the statute if the legal services are provided in accordance with the standards of practice, voluntary training and caseload limits developed by the statewide children’s representation work group.
- While each county must ensure that the law is followed, The Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA) is charged with administering the program.
- The statute requires that OCLA verify that attorneys providing legal representation for children do so consistent with the standards referenced in the bill.
3. When did RCW 13.34.100(6) become law?
The law went into effect July 1, 2014.
4. When must the court appoint counsel?
Section(6)(a) requires the court to appoint an attorney for a child in a dependency proceeding six months after granting a petition to terminate the parent and child relationship pursuant to RCW 13.34.180 and when there is no remaining parent with parental rights.
5. Can a court wait until all appeals of the termination order are exhausted prior to appointing counsel for the child?
No, appointment is required six months following entry of the order that makes the child legally free regardless of whether that order is under appeal.
6. Who qualifies to represent this group of children?
RCW 13.34.100(6)(c)(i) authorizes the state to pay for attorney representation that is provided in accordance with practice, caseload and voluntary training standards developed by the Children’s Representation Work Group. Qualified attorneys will have agreed to participate in OCLA’s case activity and oversight protocols and will have demonstrated an interest and commitment in providing effective representation for children.
7. What are some examples of the state practice standards? Attorneys must:
- Provide client-based representation. This means confidentially counseling the child, representing the child’s stated interest and, for preverbal children, protecting their legal rights.
- Participate in 40 hours of training relevant to children’s representation over a three-year period.
- Maintain regular contact with the child and meet with the client prior to all court hearings.
- Communicate regularly with all professionals involved in child’s life.
- Conduct appropriate investigations into key facts and circumstances.
- Negotiate settlements where appropriate.
- Advocate for services on behalf of the child.
- Attend all court hearings.
8. What compensation model will be used?
Consistent with the approach employed by OPD with the Parents Representation Program, we use a reimbursement rate of $1,500 per-case/year and in the case of commonly represented siblings $750 per-case/year. We will be directly contracting with attorneys preferably on a FTE or percent FTE basis.
9. Who will provide the required training?
OCLA has engaged the Court Improvement Training Academy at the University Of Washington School Of Law as its training provider. CITA is well established as a provider of high quality, training on matters relating to the representation of children, including its work in developing and delivering training to treatment attorneys participating in the national, four-year QIC ChildRep study.
10. Can one attorney represent a group of siblings?
Yes, the legislation explicitly contemplates common representation of siblings to the extent that such is allowed under the Rules of Professional Conduct.
11. What do I do if I would like to be considered for case assignments as a Children’s Representation Program Attorney?
Contact The Children’s Representation Program Manager, Jill Malat. She can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 206-623-4321 or 360-972-5794.