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
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 Otha "Curtis" Nelson, Jr., Director - Deputy Judicial Administrator for Children and Families, Louisiana Supreme Court: email@example.com or Ashley White - Technical Program Assistant: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 2020 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 2020 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 2021.
Bar number: __________________________
Email Address: __________________________
LASC, Division of Children and Families
1555 Poydras Street, Suite 1550, New Orleans, LA 70112
PDF version of the form
and Families administers three programs: the
Court Improvement Program, the CASA
Assistance Program, and the FINS Assistance
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.
Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Juvenile Delinquency
Cases" is available online at http://www.ncjfcj.org/content/blogcategory/346/411/
Court Improvement Program activities:
- The Court Improvement Program (CIP), through the Pelican Center for Children and Families provided 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 2018, the Pelican Center offered 43 different online training opportunities and 29 live trainings or workshops, which resulted in 2357 of CLE hours awarded to attorneys and judges. Other 2018 CIP activities focused on the federal Child and Family Services Review which assesses safety, permanency and child well-being outcomes for the state as a whole. The CIP continued its efforts around implementation of management information systems for attorneys representing abused and neglected children to support management of those cases by the programs and to provide a mechanism to collect data in support of CIP work to improve permanency outcomes, the quality of legal representation for children and indigent parents. The CIP Judicial Fellow provided support to judges hearing Child In Need of Care (CINC) cases, and provided information and mentoring to 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 to improve the quality of safety decision-making by courts in CINC cases. The safety work made substantial progress in 2018 with the Pelican Center providing 4 live 6-hour, interdisciplinary training events across the state, in addition to 4 quarterly webinars on Law and Best Practices in Safety Decision-making.
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 2018, CASA programs served 3,562 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) eligible children through the advocacy of 1,590 volunteer advocates. Closed cases resulted in 1,379 children being placed in permanent homes. CASA programs trained 505 new volunteers. CASA programs continue to expand their use of the CASA case management software. This year, programs began utilization of the “Wellbeing Module” within the software. This module enables advocates to develop enhanced advocacy plans for children and helps staff supervisors understand and support the direction of each advocate. Programs are able to monitor both advocate efforts and are better able to demonstrate their advocates’ impact on child outcomes and wellbeing.
FAMILIES IN NEED OF SERVICES
FINS Assistance Program activities:
- The Families in Need of Services (FINS) Assistance Program provides funding for informal FINS offices in 41 judicial districts, in addition to Hammond City Court, Monroe City Court, and Morgan City Court. FINS intake officers statewide processed 6,200 referrals and continue to provide program and case management strategies that help to increase alternatives to formal processing. Highlights this year include evidence based trainings attended by FINS officers and staff statewide at the annual Louisiana Governor’s Conference in New Orleans and a Fall Retreat Training in Baton Rouge. In December 2019, the FINS AP launched the enhancement of the FINS CMIS system which all FINS offices statewide are required to use to enter Informal FINS data. This enhancement will improve the efficiency of the programs entry of relevant data. The FINS AP also continues to maintain The Parish Snapshot, which is an internal database to assist the program with identifying a parish or judicial district’s complaint(s) received by primary ground, race, gender and age. This data allows officers the ability to specifically identify the service needs of their clients and strategically create community-based initiatives within their judicial district.
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
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
District FINS Directory
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
and Families 2004 Report
to Children and Families Programs:
Improvement Program (CIP)
Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
In Need of Services (FINS)
National Center for State Courts
Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Center for Juvenile Justice
Welfare League of America
of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Center on Children and the Law
Association of Counsel for Children
Children's Law Advocacy Resource Online (CLARO)
items of interest:
Justice Reform Efforts
In Need of Care (CINC) process
In Need of Services (FINS) process
Report of Non-Compliance wih Statutory Time Limits (pdf)