50 State Summary of Legal Authority Governing Child Representation 

The QIC-ChildRep Center reviewed and summarized the laws in all 50 states for the following provisions pertaining to children’s legal representation:

  • Child Representation Structure, organization, and delivery of child representation services State-by-state, county-by-county, etc.
  • Child Representation Funding
  • General Duties: Timely appointment, mandatory or discretionary, attorney or lay person, represent child’s interests, undertake basic obligations, address conflict situations, address special needs and disabilities, and accommodate client preferences.
  • Out of Court - Actions to be Taken: Meet with child, undertake an investigation, provide advice and counseling, file pleadings, request services, address special needs, negotiate settlements
  • In Court – Active Participation in Hearings: Appear in court, explain proceedings to client, present evidence, ensure child is present, expand scope of representation into other needed areas, and undertake certain obligations postdisposition.
  • Post-Hearing: Review courts order, communicate order to child, and monitor implementation of orders
  • Appellate Advocacy: Decision to appeal, withdrawal, participation in appeal, conclusion by appeal.
  • Cessation of Representation: Contacts post representation, if any
  • General Representation Rules: Administrative structure is clear for appointment, support and accountability of the CR. The child’s representative is independent from the court
  • Training: Child representative trained, ongoing training provided, new attorneys provided senior lawyer mentorship.
  • Compensation: Adequate and timely compensation, reimbursement provided for expenses.
  • Caseloads: Caseloads are of a manageable size

The QIC-ChildRep team would like to extend a special thank you to Erik Pitchal who guided the creation of these summaries. Each link opens a PDF.

In January of 2019, the Children’s Bureau made available federal funding to support the legal representation for children and parents in child welfare cases. States may now be reimbursed for up to 50% of the costs of providing legal representation to children and parents. See here for more information. This landmark change in policy offers the opportunity for states to improve legal representation and implement the recommendations of the QIC-ChildRep Center.

For assistance in implementing the QIC-ChildRep Policy Recommendations in your state, and/or for an assessment of your state’s children’s representation system, contact the National Association of Counsel for Children at Policy@NACCchildlaw.org.