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Children's Law Office Project

CLOP 2.0


On any given day, there are nearly 437,000 abused and neglected children living in foster care in the United States. The legal interests at stake are significant. Children face the trauma of abuse, neglect, family separation, multiple school changes, and uncertain futures. High-quality legal representation is essential to ensure fairness and due process: for all parties to voice their concerns, assert their rights, provide information and actively participate in reaching solutions that protect children and strengthen families and communities.

 

Since our founding in 1977, the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) has worked to develop children's legal representation from a cause to a profession. Children's lawyers use the law to ensure every child is raised by a nurturing family, to remove barriers to education, health care, and housing, and to shield children from the harms of family separation, human trafficking, and the juvenile justice system. Ensuring the effective delivery of legal services is an essential in establishing the right to counsel. Dedicated law offices provide some of the best models for the delivery of high-quality legal services, and experienced law office managers can help lead and mentor development of new offices and agencies serving children. 

 

In 2006 NACC launched the Children's Law Office Project, known as CLOP,  which was designed to improve the delivery of legal services to children in abuse and neglect cases through improved child law office operation and management. 

 

CLOP helped identify offices and agencies providing legal services to children, brought child law leaders together at a national convening and in an ongoing participatory network, developed consensus on model law office practice, and delivered technical assistance to emerging child offices. 

 

The project culminated in 2008 with the publication of the Child Welfare Law Office Guidebook: Best Practice Guidelines for Organizational Legal Representation of Children in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases.

 

NACC's Child Welfare Law Office Guidebook is a collection of best practice guidelines developed by the CLOP National Advisory Board, comprised of premier children's law office executives from across the country. The 80-page guide wad designed to give offices a step-by-step plan for model office operation in the areas of administration, fund development, and programs. 

  

Today, NACC is building capacity to support this growing field and the next generation of child welfare leaders who stand shoulder to shoulder with agency directors and legislators, eager to advance child welfare reform for children and families. With the new Children's Bureau policy change permitting 50% Title IV-E reimbursement from the federal government for the cost of children's legal representation, the timing is ripe to invest in the effective development of children's law office organization and leaders. 

 

As part of NACC's 2019-2023 Strategic Plan, NACC conducted a national field survey and launched CLOP 2.0. The project's most popular feature is to provide a forum for discussion and professional exchange. Other interests include training in leadership and office operations, a national listerv and e-newsletter, mentorship programs, and a revised handbook. Last year, NACC hosted a Children's Law Office Convening at our annual conference. The agenda featured original National Advisory Board members and emerging new leaders, sharing ideas and strategies for effective practice. NACC will host the next Children's Law Office Convening at our 43rd National Child Welfare Conference in Baltimore, Maryland August 23, 2020. For more information please contact NACC Executive Director Kim Dvorchak at Kim.Dvorchak@NACCchildlaw.org 

 

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