Evaluation of the impact of enhanced parental legal representation on the timing of permanency outcomes for children in foster care
While the U.S. Supreme Court has expressed the opinion that providing parental counsel to indigent parents is generally a sound practice, it has ruled that parents do not have an absolute constitutional right to counsel in termination of parental rights proceedings, and not all states provide a statutory right to counsel after child protection proceedings have been initiated or in termination proceedings. What constitutes adequate representation for indigent parents involved in abuse and neglect and parental rights termination proceedings remains an open question. This study addresses gaps in knowledge about the functioning of child welfare services and juvenile courts by evaluating the impact of a program of enhanced parental legal representation on the timing of permanency outcomes for 12,104 children who entered court-supervised out-of-home care in Washington State for the first time between 2004 and 2007. The study employs methods that are methodologically superior to prior efforts to evaluate parental representation and focuses on key outcomes of the child welfare and dependency court systems. Study findings provide evidence that the availability of improved parental legal representation speeds reunification with parents, and for those children who do not reunify, it speeds achieving permanency through adoption and guardianship.
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- Akin, Becci A., 2011. "Predictors of foster care exits to permanency: A competing risks analysis of reunification, guardianship, and adoption," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 999-1011, June.
- Maluccio, Anthony N. & Abramczyk, Lois W. & Thomlison, Barbara, 1996. "Family reunification of children in out-of-home care: Research perspectives," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(4-5), pages 287-305.
- Harris, Marian S. & Courtney, Mark E., 2003. "The interaction of race, ethnicity, and family structure with respect to the timing of family reunification," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(5-6), pages 409-429.
- Courtney, Mark E. & Yin-Ling Irene Wong, 1996. "Comparing the timing of exits from substitute care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(4-5), pages 307-334.
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