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Jim Theofelis MC, LMHC, CDC Executive Director & Founder

Multi-systemic Advocacy to Increase & Improve Legal Representation for Children in Foster Care: The Washington State Experience NACC 34 th National Child Welfare, Juvenile, & Family Law Conference August 31 st , 2011. Jim Theofelis MC, LMHC, CDC Executive Director & Founder. Erin Shea McCann

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Jim Theofelis MC, LMHC, CDC Executive Director & Founder

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  1. Multi-systemic Advocacy to Increase & Improve Legal Representation for Children in Foster Care: The Washington State ExperienceNACC 34th National Child Welfare, Juvenile, & Family Law ConferenceAugust 31st, 2011

  2. Jim Theofelis MC, LMHC, CDCExecutive Director & Founder Erin Shea McCann Casey Trupin Staff Attorneys

  3. Today’s Session . . . • The legal representation landscape in Washington • The Mockingbird Society: • The Network • Engaging Youth • Engaging Stakeholders • Changing the landscape • Legislative work • Litigation: past, present & future • Next steps

  4. Framing the Issue . . . • First Star Report • 2007: F Grade; 2009: D Grade • Among the bottom 10 states • WA law • RCW 13.34.100 • JuCR 9.2(c) • Justice by geography • Data / Office of Civil Legal Aid Study • CASA

  5. Our Goal . . . All children in Washington State will have a client-directed attorney at all stages of their dependency and termination proceedings. The child’s attorney will be guided by rigorous caseload and training standards. The child’s attorney will be supported by a network of children’s lawyers, social workers, community partners, and youth advocates. * Based on the ABA Model Act Governing the Representation of Children in Abuse, Neglect and Dependency Cases

  6. The Mockingbird Society’s Mission:Building a World-Class Foster Care System

  7. Mission Statement: Building a World-Class Foster Care System Mission The mission of The Mockingbird Society is to advocate for systems reform based on the personal experiences of children, youth and families impacted by the foster care system. Vision At The Mockingbird Society we are dedicated to building a world-class foster care system that ensures the care, support and resources necessary for children, youth and families to thrive.

  8. How We Are Going About Building . . . • Change the Rules: Policy & Budget Allocation • Change the Practice • Humanize the issue by putting a face to the issue • Operational definition of “world-class system”

  9. The Mockingbird Society Programs

  10. Network Components: Mockingbird Times Network Chapters Speakers Program The Mockingbird Network Statewide Leadership Council Leadership Trainings Annual Events

  11. Network Regional Chapters 2 Everett Spokane 1 2 Seattle Olympia 3 3 Tacoma 1 Yakima

  12. Leadership Through Three Strategies Individual Development Community Engagement System Reform

  13. Youth-Inspired Priorities

  14. Youth-Inspired Solutions Youth Priorities 2005-2006 2009-2010 Safe Housing Foster Care to 21: In college for FY (HB 2002) Safe Housing Notification of Rights Notification of Rights in Foster Care (SB5758) Medicaid to 21 State Identification Cards Safety for Youth in Care 2011 2007-2008 Independent Youth Housing (HB 1922) Fostering Connections: 50 youth per year can stay in their Homes during college (HB 1961) Extended Foster Care (FCA/Entitlement) to pursue high school diploma or GED (HB 1128) Medicaid/Healthcare to 21 for FY (SHB 1201) Allowing Social Workers to verify identity of foster youth for WA Identicard (SB 67932) Unannounced Visits from Social Worker (HB 1697) On the Record Finding (HB 1183) Notification of Right to Request Counsel & Practice Standards (HB 2735) Creating a Legal Rep. Pilot Program (HB 3048) Legal Representation

  15. Engaging the Stakeholders Network Host Agencies Community Partners Advocates for System Kids & Youth (ASK-Y) Child Welfare Advocacy Coalition (CWAC) Committee to End Homelessness (King County) Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Regional Steering Committee • Casey Family Programs • Community Youth Services • Pierce County Alliance • YouthNet • Volunteers of America (Spokane)

  16. How We Go About Engaging: 25,000 Subscriptions Youth-Led Trainings

  17. Legislative Work . . . • 2008 / HB 3048: Two County Pilot project • OCLA Study • 2009 / HB 1183: Finding on the Record • 2010 / HB 2735: Notification of Right to Request Counsel • Caseload & Training Standards developed by Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care; adopted by Legislature • No cost option

  18. Legislative Work: One Step Forward . . . HB 2735: Notification of the Right to Request Counsel in Dependency Proceedings and Training and Caseload Standards

  19. . . . Two Steps Back Barriers: Community Standard: Most families would never let their child appear in court without an attorney Attorneys are adequately trained with reasonable caseloads • Legislators • Need for Public Education • CASAs • Politics (differing perspectives about quality, quantity, etc., for legal representation)

  20. Lessons Learned . . . • Legislative intent section of HB 2735 critical for future legislative advocacy and appellate work • Attorneys have different skills and obligations than GALs/CASAs, especially in forming a confidential and privileged relationship with a child • Well-trained attorneys can provide legal counsel to a child on issues such as placement options, visitation rights, educational rights, access to services while in care and services available to a child upon aging out of care • Legislative down time

  21. Off Session Visits: Putting a Face on the Issue

  22. The True Cost of Advocacy HB 3048 made it through the Washington State House Judiciary Committee in 2008. In the eleventh hour of the 2008 session, the budget proviso for HB 3048 was removed. The Mockingbird Society » Building a world-class foster care system» mockingbirdsociety.org

  23. Litigation / Appellate Work . . . • Finding the cases • Children’s Representation listserv • In re the Termination of D.R. and A.R. • Court of Appeals: state’s concession • Supreme Court: limited to TPR; able to refer to past work (2735: notification ≠ appointment of counsel; OCLA study) • Oral argument • Amicus coordination • Diverse national and local perspective: everyone but the State agrees

  24. Updates . . . • In re the Termination of M.S.R. and T.S.R. • Mother represented by former amicus attorney • Amici want another bite at the apple—strengthen briefs based on State’s response to amicus in D.R./A.R. and Justices’ questions in oral argument • In re the Dependency of K.A.S. • What about Bellevue School District v. E.S.? • Center for Children & Youth Justice QIC Pilot Site

  25. Next Steps . . . • Legislative: Budget neutral option? • Litigation: Affirmative litigation? Appeals? • Community Education & Continued Outreach • QIC

  26. Coming Full Circle: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back . . . The Mockingbird Society » Building a world-class foster care system» mockingbirdsociety.org

  27. Resources . . . The Mockingbird Societywww.mockingbirdsociety.orgNational Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System www.improvechildrep.orgABA Section of Litigation Children’s Rights Litigation Committeeapps.americanbar.org/litigation/committees/childrights

  28. Contact Information . . . Jim Theofelis, The Mockingbird Societyjim@mockingbirdsociety.org; (206) 323-5437Casey Trupin, Columbia Legal Services casey.trupin@columbialegal.org; (206) 287-9665Erin Shea McCann, Columbia Legal Serviceserin.sheamccann@columbialegal.org; (206) 287-8613

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