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Latest News: NACC Updates

Children's Bureau Permits Funding for Child and Parent Legal Representation

Thursday, December 20, 2018   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Kim Dvorchak
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Exciting news out of the Children’s Bureau!  In an update to the Child Welfare Policy Manual (CWPM), which contains policy questions and answers applicable to child welfare programs operated by the Children’s Bureau, the administration now allows title IV-E agencies to be reimbursed for the administrative costs of legal representation for children and parents in child welfare cases. 

 

While there are many details to be reviewed and discussed, this change opens up a major funding stream to support legal representation of children and parents, in addition to agency representation.

 

The Children’s Bureau is removing Q/A 8.1B #18 and add the following new Q/A to section 8.1B:

 

Question:  May a title IV-E agency claim title IV-E administrative costs for attorneys to provide legal representation for the title IV-E agency, a candidate for title IV-E foster care or a title IV-E eligible child in foster care and the child’s parents to prepare for and participate in all stages of foster care related legal proceedings?

 

Answer: Yes. The statute at section 474(a)(3) of the Act and regulations at 45 CFR 1356.60(c) specify that Federal financial participation (FFP) is available at the rate of 50% for administrative expenditures necessary for the proper and efficient administration of the title IV-E plan. The title IV-E agency’s representation in judicial determinations continues to be an allowable administrative cost.

 

Per the update from the Children’s Bureau: Previous policy prohibited the agency from claiming title IV-E administrative costs for legal services provided by an attorney representing a child or parent. This policy is revised to allow the title IV-E agency to claim title IV-E administrative costs of independent legal representation by an attorney for a child who is a candidate for title IV-E foster care or in foster care and his/her parent to prepare for and participate in all stages of foster care legal proceedings, such as court hearings related to a child’s removal from the home. These administrative costs of legal representation must be paid through the title IV-E agency.  This change in policy will ensure that, among other things: reasonable efforts are made to prevent removal and finalize the permanency plan; and parents and youth are engaged in and complying with case plans.

 

This is an incredible testament to the leadership and staff of the Children’s Bureau, and the tireless work of right to counsel advocates over the last several years, including Amy Harfeld, NACC Board Member and National Policy Director & Senior Staff Attorney of the Children’s Advocacy Institute, the ABA Center on Children and the Law, and NACC.  Dr. Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau and Special Assistant David Kelly prepared an article for NACC’s Guardian this spring on How Attorneys and Judges Help Strengthen Families, David Kelly also wrote a recent piece on It’s time to Follow the Law and Take Reasonable Efforts Seriously, and the Children’s Bureau recently issued a special edition of Children’s Bureau Express highlighting the importance of the role the legal and judicial community plays in improving outcomes for Children and Families (as they had at NACC’s Conference this August).  It’s thrilling to see this momentum lead to policy change and NACC thanks everyone involved for their advocacy and leadership.

 

To the NACC Membership Community, Dr. Jerry Milner offers his thanks for our enthusiasm:

 

Kim and NACC members - David and I and others in the Children’s Bureau who have worked on this policy change are incredibly happy that this is happening. It is pivotal to realizing our vision. Releasing the policy was very exciting for us, and your joy and enthusiasm over it only increases our optimism for what we can accomplish for children and families.  Thanks again.  Jerry 

 

NACC will provide more information in the future regarding the implementation of this development.  Here are some articles on the topic:

In Major Reversal, Feds Will Now Help Pay Child Welfare Legal Fees

Grasping the Opportunity to Remake Child Welfare

 

Comments...

Anne Kirkhope says...
Posted Monday, February 18, 2019
If the state agency is the one through which the funding must flow and the state is a party, how will the issue of conflict of interest between counsel for the state and counsel for the parent or child be handled when both are essentially being paid from the same source of funds? Would appreciate any comment or suggestions. Anne Kirkhope, CWLS, Staff Attorney for the Council of Juvenile Court Judges of Georgia.

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