Louisiana Supreme Court - 400 Royal St., New Orleans, LA 70130 | Tel: 504-310-2300 Hon. Bernette J. Johnson. Chief Justice.  John Tarlton Olivier., Clerk of Court.  Sandra A. Vujnovich. Judicial Administrator
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 Children and Families

The Children and Families division of the Office of the Judicial Administrator is involved in several initiatives to improve the juvenile justice system for children and families in Louisiana.  

Children and Families

FEATURED INFORMATION:

INFORMATION ON NEW SYSTEM OF REPRESENTATION IN CHILD PROTECTION CASES


QUALIFICATIONS AND STANDARDS FOR ATTORNEYS REPRESENTING CHILDREN IN NEED OF CARE

Since July, 2005 the Louisiana Supreme Court Division of Children and Families has been collecting and maintaining information received from attorneys pursuant to this Rule.  This list is a compilation based on information submitted to the Supreme Court and includes those attorneys qualified for appointment as counsel for children in child abuse and neglect cases as of the day indicated in the update notice.

It is the continuing responsibility of each attorney to provide documentation of his/her qualifications to the Division of Children and Families.  Any attorney who has not submitted, prior to January 31 each year, evidence of attendance of at least six hours of approved continuing legal education in the past calendar year will no longer be considered as qualified under this Rule.

Questions or comments about the list of qualified counsel for children in child abuse and neglect cases?  Please e-mail Karen Hallstrom, Interim Director - Deputy Judicial Administrator for Children and Families, Louisiana Supreme Court:  khallstrom@lasc.org.

 

HISTORY:

Since its enactment in 1974, CAPTA has required appointment of a "guardian ad litem" in "every case involving an abused or neglected child which results in a judicial proceeding." States must meet this requirement, among others, in order to be eligible for federal support under the CAPTA state grant program. The guardian ad litem (GAL) can be "an attorney or a court appointed special advocate (or both)" for the child and must obtain a first-hand understanding of the child's situation and needs and make recommendations to the court concerning the child's best interests.

The Louisiana Children’s Code requires appointed independent counsel for the child (art. 607) and authorizes appointment of CASA  (art. 424.1).

The CAPTA requirement as amended in 2003  [42 U.S.C. §5106a(b)(2)(A)(xiii)] specifies that, in order for states to be eligible for a CAPTA state grant, there must be provisions and procedures requiring that in every case involving an abused or neglected child which results in a judicial proceeding, a guardian ad litem who has received training appropriate to the role, who may be an attorney or a court appointed special advocate who has received training appropriate to the role (or both), shall be appointed to represent the child in such proceedings.

The Children’s Code provisions were amended in 2004 to add this training requirement as an intended component of the term “qualified” in requiring qualified independent counsel for children.  No additional legislation was necessary for CASA, since CASA standards already required specialized training.

According to DHHS/ACF program instructions on the CAPTA amendment, there should be no appointment of an attorney for a child who has not, before his appointment, received "appropriate" training that is specifically related to their role. CAPTA was amended to ensure higher quality representation and to bar appointment of untrained or poorly trained court-appointed representatives for children.

In connection with Louisiana’s Juvenile Justice Reform efforts, a joint Task Force on Legal Representation in Child Protection Cases, co-chaired by the Chief Justice and the Secretary of DSS, was created by HCR No. 44 (2003) to study systemic issues and concerns related to the provision of legal representation for abused and neglected children and indigent parents in child protection cases and to make recommendations on how these services may be more effectively and efficiently provided and funded.  House Concurrent Resolution No. 59 (2004) continued the work of the Task Force.

The Task Force made recommendations to the 2005 legislature that included CAPTA-compliant attorney qualifications, standards of practice, and training requirements to be included in Part J of the Supreme Court Administrative Rules and implemented upon adoption by the Court.

 

SUPREME COURT RULES:

Rules of the Louisiana Supreme Court, Part J  (Special Rules for Cases Involving the Protection of Children), Rule XXXV (Attorney Qualification and Standards) were adopted, effective July 2005.

 

PART. I.  Qualifications

Section 1.  Purpose

              This rule provides an administrative procedure to ensure appointment of qualified counsel to children in child abuse and neglect proceedings.

 

Section 2.  Applicability

              The provisions of this rule apply to all counsel appointed to represent children in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases, as defined in Rule XXXIII, Part I, Section 2.

 

Section 3.  Qualification of Appointed Counsel

A. Prior to appointment as counsel for children in child abuse and neglect proceedings, an attorney shall have the following qualifications:

 

(1) The attorney shall be licensed to practice law in the State of Louisiana and in good standing with the Louisiana State Bar Association; and

 

(2) Effective upon adoption of this rule, the attorney shall have completed within the last two years a minimum of eight hours of training or education relevant to child abuse and neglect cases, or shall have sufficient recent experience in such proceedings in which the attorney has demonstrated competency. 

 

a.   The requisite education or experience shall include relevant law and jurisprudence, child development, child abuse and neglect, and the roles, responsibilities and duties of independent counsel for children, including the Standards for Representation of Children.

 

b.  Evidence of qualifications may include proof of attendance at relevant continuing education programs and documentation of competency signed by a judge having personal knowledge of  the attorney’s experience.

 

(3) Effective January 1, 2006 and thereafter, the attorney shall complete a minimum of six hours of approved continuing legal education each calendar year, and shall submit to the Supreme Court records pertaining to their compliance no later than January 31 of the following calendar year.

 

B. Attorneys shall submit evidence of their qualifications to the Louisiana Supreme Court, Division of Children and Families, and a list of attorneys qualified for appointment shall be maintained and published by the Court.

 

C. Appointment of counsel for children in child abuse and neglect cases shall be made from the list of qualified attorneys, except when the court appoints an attorney otherwise qualified but not yet on the list. In that case, the court shall document the qualifications of the attorney and instruct the attorney to file the documentation with the Supreme Court. 

 

Supreme Court

State of Louisiana

Office of the Judicial Administrator

Division of Children and Families

CHILD ATTORNEY QUALIFICATIONS FORM

Attorneys shall complete a minimum of six hours of approved continuing legal education each calendar year, and shall submit to the Supreme Court documentation of compliance no later than January 31 of the following calendar year to be prospectively qualified. The requisite education shall include relevant law and jurisprudence, child development, child abuse and neglect, and the roles, responsibilities and duties of independent counsel for children, including the Standards for Representation of Children.

I, _____________________________________ (attorney name) do hereby submit the following qualifications for representation of children in child abuse and neglect cases under the administration of or as a conflict attorney for the following program:

[ ] MHAS/CAP
[ ] Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
[ ] Acadiana Legal Services/Legal Services of North Louisiana

[ ] I am currently licensed to practice law in Louisiana and am in good standing with the Louisiana State Bar Association, and

[ ] I have read and understand the Supreme Court Rules For Cases Involving the Protection of Children, including the Standards of Practice, and hereby agree to abide by them in my representation of children in child abuse and neglect cases, and

(CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING)

[ ] I am a new children’s attorney and have completed in 2018 a minimum of six hours of continuing legal education relevant to child abuse and neglect cases, as is evidenced by the attached documentation, in order to begin representing children this year. I understand that I am required to complete an additional six hours of relevant education this year in order to be qualified to represent children next year, and that I must submit a new form and documentation of these hours before January 31.

[ ] I am a continuing children’s attorney and have completed in 2018 a minimum of six hours of continuing legal education relevant to child abuse and neglect cases, as is evidenced by the attached documentation, in order to be qualified to represent children in 2019.

 

Date:___________________                      ____________________________________

          Attorney

          ____________________________________

          Address

          ____________________________________

 

          Bar number: __________________________

 

          Email Address: __________________________

 

Send to:                  

LASC, Division of Children and Families  rstallard@lasc.org or  504-599-0098 (fax)

1555 Poydras Street, Suite 1550, New Orleans, LA 70112

PDF version of the form


Children and Families administers three programs: the Court Improvement Program, the CASA Assistance Program, and the FINS Assistance Program.  

 

DELINQUENCY

 
  • DELINQUENCY:

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) announces the availability of "Juvenile Delinquency Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Juvenile Delinquency Cases." A cooperative effort by NCJFCJ and OJJDP to identify comprehensive and effective practices for juvenile delinquency courts, the guidelines define key principles of a "juvenile delinquency court of excellence" and set forth essential elements of effective practice for each court process involved in handling delinquency cases, from intake through postdisposition review. The guidelines also discuss implementation issues and provide checklists, a glossary, and resource materials.


Resources:

"Juvenile Delinquency Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Juvenile Delinquency Cases" is available online at http://www.ncjfcj.org/content/blogcategory/346/411/ .

 

CHILD ABUSE/NEGLECT

2017 Court Improvement Program activities:

  • The Court Improvement Program (CIP), through the Pelican Center for Children and Families, worked diligently to provide both legal and interdisciplinary training and education programs designed to improve the safety, permanency and well-being of abused and neglected children in our state. During 2017, the Pelican Center produced 24 in-person trainings or workshops, which resulted in 1,680 hours of CLE being awarded to both judges and attorneys. In addition, the Pelican Center offered online training programming that resulted in 2,312 hours of CLE being awarded. Further, efforts were focused on providing management information systems for attorneys representing abused and neglected children to help support management of those cases by the programs serving them and to provide a mechanism to collect data in support of CIP work designed to improve the quality of representation and hearing quality in general. The CIP Judicial Fellow provided support to judges hearing Child In Need of Care (CINC) cases, as well as providing information and mentoring of new judges assuming CINC jurisdiction. Another area of intense work by the CIP was a joint project with the Louisiana Department of Children and Families designed to improve the quality of safety decision-making by courts in CINC cases.


 

2017 CASA Assistance Program activities:

  • The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Assistance Program administered funding for CASA programs in 54 parishes and 37 judicial districts. In 2017, CASA programs served 3,485 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) eligible children. Closed cases resulted in 1,358 children being placed in permanent homes. CASA programs trained 544 new volunteers. Expanded use of the statewide case management system continues to enhance uniformity of data collection and analysis resulting in better advocacy and better outcomes for children.

 

FAMILIES IN NEED OF SERVICES

2017 FINS Assistance Program activities:

  • The Families in Need of Services (FINS) Assistance Program provides funding for informal FINS offices in 42 judicial districts, including the addition of Morgan City Court, located in the 16th judicial district. FINS officers statewide processed almost 7,000 referrals and continue to provide program and case management strategies that help to increase alternatives to formal processing. Highlights this year include a regional training attended by participants from over 30 parishes statewide. In addition, all judicial districts were invited to an annual professional development retreat centered on family strengthening and engagement, and promoting the National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged with Status Offenses, hereinafter “Standards.” The Standards are aimed at promoting best practices, based on research and social service approaches, to better engage and support youth and families in need of assistance. By April 2018, FINS AP will launch an online FINS Assistance Program Community Services Statewide Directory to enable children and families to identify and access needed services and interventions.


Additional 2017 Initiatives:

  • Alanah Hebert, the newly appointed Director of the Division of Children and Families, will serve as Co-Chair, along with Senator Gary Smith, of the Louisiana Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) Statewide Leadership Collaborative created by HCR 102, and will oversee planning efforts for statewide implementation of JDAI.

  • The Supreme Court received 3,727 juvenile records from six courts representing urban, rural and city jurisdictions containing standardized Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) data. Seventeen additional district courts have completed modifications to their case management systems allowing them to securely record juvenile case data and report DMC data. More district and city courts will have this capability as they periodically upgrade their systems to Louisiana Supreme Court standards.

 

The Children and Families division provides education, training, and technical assistance to courts and court participants engaged in juvenile court matters.   In 2006, Children and Families provided statewide judicial training in the annual "Recent Developments" update at the January City and Juvenile Court Judges' Program, as well as specialized training on Juvenile Waiver of Counsel and Competency for courts exercising juvenile jurisdiction.

 

Children and Families is also engaged in a number of inter-disciplinary, inter-branch and inter-agency collaborative efforts to improve the system for children and their families.   For example, in 2006, staff actively participated the legislative Task Force on Legal Representation in Child Protection Proceedings, co-chaired by the Chief Justice, which adopted a mission, a common vision,   goals and recommendations for improving legal representation of abused and neglected children and indigent parents in child protection cases, and together with the Court Improvement Program developed practice standards for attorneys representing children in these cases.

District FINS Directory

 

ANNUAL REPORTS

Children and Families 2017 Report

Children and Families 2016 Report

Children and Families 2015 Report

Children and Families 2014 Report

Children and Families 2013 Report

Children and Families 2012 Report

Children and Families 2011 Report

Children and Families 2010 Report

Children and Families 2009 Report

Children and Families 2008 Report

Children and Families 2007 Report

Children and Families 2006 Report

Children and Families 2005 Report

Children and Families 2004 Report

 

LINKS

Links to Children and Families Programs:
Court Improvement Program (CIP)

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)

Families In Need of Services (FINS)

Other Links:

The National Center for State Courts

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

National Center for Juvenile Justice

Child Welfare League of America

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

The Children's Bureau

ABA Center on Children and the Law

National Association of Counsel for Children

Children's Law Advocacy Resource Online (CLARO)

Other items of interest:

Juvenile Justice Reform Efforts

 

FLOWCHARTS

Flowcharts

Delinquency process

Child In Need of Care (CINC) process

Families In Need of Services (FINS) process

Forms:
Report of Non-Compliance wih Statutory Time Limits (pdf)

 

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