Improving the Legal Representation of Children
In October 2009, the U.S. Children’s Bureau named University of Michigan Law School the National Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System (QIC-ChildRep).
The QIC-ChildRep, is a five-year, $5 million dollar project to gather, develop and communicate knowledge on child representation, promote consensus on the role of the child’s legal representative, and provide one of the first empirically-based analyses of how legal representation for the child might best be delivered.
The Center, which is run by the legendary child advocate Don Duquette, has a great website and promises to answer the following questions:
- What should be the duties and responsibilities of the child’s representative in civil child protection proceedings?
- Who should represent the child in such proceedings? A lawyer? A CASA? A social worker? A team?
- What does the child representative do that makes a difference in a child’s life?
- How can effective representation for the child be accomplished? That is, what organizational structure best delivers legal services for a child?
- By what criteria is effective child representation to be measured?
- How should the child’s representative accommodate the child’s wishes in setting the goals of the advocacy?
This is a serious initiative which is long overdue and which will significantly advance the representation of children in the child welfare system. I look forward to the results.
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