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Children's Representation Project

Mission Statement

Children's Representation 
Please Contact the Office of Civil Legal Aid Children's Representation Program for assistance and information.

Washington is the only state in the country that allows some children to go without an advocate altogether in dependency proceedings.  The counties throughout the state utilize different models including volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates, Guardians Ad Litem and attorneys with no consistent standard for appointment or representation.

Children are hampered in their ability to assert their expressed and best interest in court proceedings about where to live, how they are doing in school, what health and other needs they have, and how much contact they have with their siblings.  Effective representation of children in abuse and neglect proceedings is needed to ensure that children are not further traumatized by the legal process and to ensure that their issues are identified and addressed properly.

WDA's Children’s Representation Project provided a focal point for expanding children’s representation statewide through the identification of attorneys currently practicing in the area of children’s representation and the recruitment of new attorneys who are interested and able to represent children in dependency proceedings.

This project was created to address the lack of uniform representation for children in dependency proceedings, the needs of those attorneys practicing in the area, and to develop a resource network for attorneys currently representing children.  The goals and objectives of this project included:

  • Identifying attorneys currently providing children’s representation and recruiting new attorneys who are interested providing representation;
  • Providing culturally-relevant training in different locations throughout the state;
  • Developing a library of training sessions that will be available to children’s attorney;
  • Creating a children’s representation listserv;
  • Dedicating a section of the WDA website to children’s representation that will include training, publications and resource services; and
  • Providing technical assistance. 

 

In 2014, the Office of Civil Legal Aid was directed to create a Children's Representation Program to provide legal counsel for legally free (orphan) children who are still not adopted 6 months after the order terminating the child-parent relationship has been entered  by the court.  This web page has been designed to help you understand the rights of youth in dependency proceedings and to provide some resources on how to deal with issues that arise in your representation of them. Follow these links in the bar on the left side of the screen for more information.

Also, the Washington State Office of Civil Legal Aid's Children's Representation Program has more information and resources.  Please contact their Program Manager, Jill Malat, by email or by phone

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