New Study Confirms the Value of Early Appointment of Attorneys for Children in Dependency Cases
In 2017 the Washington State Legislature funded OCLA to conduct a three year study of the impact of standards based legal representation for children involved in child welfare proceedings. Final publication of the Study Report was released in November 2021 documenting significant positive impacts from the early appointment of standards-based, well-trained attorneys for children and youth.
Children’s Representation Program
[This section undergoing update]
Pursuant to RCW 13.34.100(2)(6), attorneys must be appointed to represent the stated interests of children who remain in the foster care system six months following the termination of their parents’ legal rights. OCLA administers the Children’s Representation Program.
The mission of the Children’s Representation Program is to underwrite and oversee the delivery of standards based, meaningful, effective and culturally competent attorney representation for legally free children who remain in the foster care system six months following termination of their parents’ legal rights, with the goal of achieving early permanent placements consistent with the children’s stated interests and relevant child well-being indicators.
Children’s Representation Program attorneys will, among other things:
- Ensure the child’s voice is considered in judicial proceedings;
- Engage the child in his or her legal proceedings;
- Explain to the child his or her legal rights;
- Assist the child, through the attorney’s counseling role, to consider the consequences of different decisions; and
- Encourage accountability, when appropriate, among the different systems that provide services to children.
For more information on the Children’s Representation Program you can read the Report to the Washington State Legislature. If you are an attorney licensed in the State of Washington and want to be considered for inclusion in the panel of contracting attorneys, contact:
Jill A. Malat, Children’s Representation Program Manager
Office of Civil Legal Aid, 101 Prefontaine Pl. S., Suite 610, Seattle, WA 98101
Resources Page for Children’s Representation Attorneys.