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New York Parent Representation Commission releases Interim Report

Monday, March 11, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kim Dvorchak
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On February 28, 2019, the New York State Commission on Parental Legal Representation issued an Interim Report after months of study and public testimony. 


The Interim Report cites as authority recommendations by NACC regarding the need for statewide oversight and infrastructure to support high-quality parent representation, as provided in NACC's written and oral testimony to the Commission.




1. We recommend that parents be timely provided with relevant information about the right to counsel, and that parents be granted access to counsel during a child protective agency investigation and sufficiently in advance of the first court appearance.


2. We recommend the establishment of a State Office of Family Representation (the Office) to provide oversight of parental representation. That Office, in turn, would oversee representation in child welfare cases by institutional offices and well-resourced attorneys to ensure the delivery of client-centered, interdisciplinary, holistic parental representation throughout the state.


3. We recommend that the proposed Office of Family Representation develop uniform standards of eligibility for assigned counsel that would apply in all Family Court proceedings, and would include a presumption of eligibility for counsel in child welfare proceedings, to be established by legislation.


4. We recommend that the State fund a study to determine appropriate maximum caseload standards for attorneys representing parents in Family Court proceedings. Until such a study has been completed, we recommend a caseload maximum for attorneys representing parents in child welfare cases of 50 to 60 pending clients per attorney, to be established by legislation or rule.


5. We recommend that the State pay for all costs associated with parental representation in child welfare proceedings to ensure quality representation and eliminate disparities among localities.


6. We recommend that the hourly rates for assigned attorneys be increased to $150 per hour, and a mechanism for periodic review and adjustment be instituted


Here is a recent article on the Interim Report from the Chronicle for Social Change.


On October 9, 2018 NACC Executive Director Kim Dvorchak provided testimony at the New York State Commission on Parental Legal Representation in Albany, New York.


The Commission was established by Chief Judge Janet DeFiore to gather information on existing services and suggestions for reforms needed to ensure quality representation for persons eligible for assigned counsel in family law matters.  The commission is conducting public hearings and soliciting comments and information to inform the Commission's report and recommendations.  Click here for information on the Commission.


Ms. Dvorchak shared information about NACC's Policy Advocacy Agenda, which supports the right to effective assistance of counsel and access to justice for children and parents, NACC's Child Welfare Law Specialist Certification program, and NACC's experience assessing and supporting the development of parent representation in Colorado.  NACC provided the Commission a copy of Child Welfare Law and Practice and shared information about the Child Welfare Law Office Handbook.


NACC recommended New York establish a system of statewide oversight and support for parents' attorneys in the same manner it provides statewide oversight and support for children's attorneys.


"The delivery of high-quality legal services requires an infrastructure which provides attorneys with the time, training, compensation, and resources necessary for effective representation, and a system of statewide funding and oversight to safeguard its success."


Click here for NACC's Written Testimony to the Commission.



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