Let’s Talk Adoption

Some of our child clients have been talking to John and Jim about adoption, which inspired an episode about how we think of adoption as children’s attorneys.

It’s important to understand all the things that come with and all the things that get taken away with adoption.

Federal policies and local practices seem to swing on a pendulum as to whether adoption is to be emphasized or strenuously avoided, but we focus on finding the best possible option for each singular client and keep it in our tool belts.

One way we think of the issue is that adoption is about the risk of harm from the continued pursuit of reunification versus the risk of harm due to the loss of their birth family. As a child’s attorney, knowing your client and the dynamics affecting them will help you recognize when adoption might be the best strategy for the child. Thanks for listening and please share with others who might find the podcast helpful!

New Parental Rights Legislation, with Patti Sullivan

This week, we’re talking with Patti Sullivan, the Parental Rights Foundation’s Florida State Coordinator. Patti and Michael were in DC to bring attention to two national bills aimed at protecting parental rights: the Families’ Rights and Responsibilities Act and the Parental Rights Amendment. They discuss those bills and their efforts in this episode.

Placement Considerations for Children’s Attorneys

Placement decisions happen fast and are made by the agency – usually without any input from attorneys representing children. The child’s placement impacts the case A LOT so we wanted to do a podcast about the things we think about when it comes to placement.

It’s the agency’s job to find a placement right away, but evaluating whether the placement will ultimately facilitate permanency for the child is yours. If reunification seems likely, should the kids be with a couple that wants to adopt? If TPR looks probable, do you let a baby stay in a placement that separates her from her 11 year old sister?

Getting the home study and critically reviewing it can help identify omissions that will help keep the child safe or, alternatively, possibilities for placement that shouldn’t be ruled out.

Talking to the child – both at the placement and away from the home – is always important. Listen and trust your instincts.

Children’s attorneys don’t always have a lot of options when it comes to impacting the child’s placement. However, since the placement impacts your overall legal strategy it can’t be considered in a vacuum. We hope our discussion gives you some ideas for your jurisdiction!

Can Singing in the Car Make You a Better Children’s Lawyer?

We talk about work culture and retention a lot in child welfare. Angela talks with Cathy Krebs, Director of the ABA’s Children’s Rights Litigation Committee who thinks a new approach to these topics could lead to ways to improve representation.

A few of the subjects covered were:

Burnout and self-care – Cathy tells a story of a child client who’s attorney seemed so distracted and overwhelmed that the child decided not to “burden” the lawyer with what was happening in her life. The need for self-care is real, and doing anything from singing to cooking to meditation has benefit.

Mentorship – Attorneys with even a couple years of experience can help others who don’t know the culture or may be working alone.

Community – If you’re a solo practitioner or in a smaller children’s law office, there are things you can do within existing resources to create a supportive network, like brown bag lunches or collaborating on systemic advocacy.

The ABA’s Children’s Rights Committee has resources on this topic and tons of others. Some of the studies mentioned include:

The Future of Children’s Lawyering

Practical Tips for Addressing Burnout

Using Reflective Case Consultation to Battle Burnout and Secondary Traumatic Stress

2021 Illinois Legal Aid Recruitment and Retention Study

What Draws Attorneys to Child Welfare Practice

The Case for a Centralized Office for Legal Representation in Child Welfare Cases

Takeaways from 2023

In this episode, Angela, John and Jim discuss a few key takeaways from 2023.

Messaging to Win Hearts and Minds

Sometimes you can move a case with legal arguments and procedural tools, but other times, you have to win hearts and minds. In our newest podcast, Jim, John and Angela share how learning to message in this way can help your child client.

Collaborative or Adversarial?

Angela and Jim discuss the adversarial nature of the dependency system, and how to find a balance between a collaborative and adversarial approach to representing children.

Three Powerful Practices

Children’s attorneys can’t do it all, but in our experience, doing certain things consistently in each case can improve representation and outcomes. We call it practicing with fidelity.

For our 50th Episode we wanted to give some concrete tips to our listeners. Listen to this episode to learn three actionable strategies that make a difference when repeated consistently.

Family Court and the Fourth Amendment, with Anna Arons

This week, we talk with Anna Arons. Anna is the Impact Project Director at the New York University Defense Clinic and formerly the acting assistant professor of lawyering at the New York University School of Law. She’s also an assistant professor of law at the Saint John’s University School of Law.

In this episode, Anna discusses her law review article, The Empty Promise of the Fourth Amendment in the Family Regulation System. In her article, she explains how the child welfare system unfairly targets and polices poor and minority families and denies them the constitutional protections they are promised under the Fourth Amendment.

Motion to Compel

John and Angela discuss a tool that can be used to move cases forward – the motion to compel.

Preserving Family Connections, with Vivek Sankaren

Vivek Sankaren is a clinical professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, and director of their Child Advocacy Law Clinic and the Child Welfare Appellate Clinic. He’s authored over three dozen journal and law review articles, including “The Ties That Bind Us: an Empirical, Clinical, and Constitutional Argument Against Terminating Parental Rights”. In this episode, Vivek discusses the arguments he makes in his law review article that children are best cared for and protected when they maintain an attachment and connection to their families of origin.

One Legal Problem

In this episode, John, Jim and Angela discuss the cornerstone of their practice philosophy – keeping the focus on the child’s number one legal problem.

What Medical Child Abuse Is – and Isn’t, with Maxine Eichner

This week, we talk with Maxine Eichner. Maxine is a Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina, and she writes on legal issues surrounding families and social welfare law and policy. In this episode, Eichner explains the history of a concept called “medical child abuse” and how innocent parents of medically complex children can easily find themselves caught up in allegations of child abuse – all because some doctors don’t understand the medical issues their children face.

Reforming the Texas Foster Care System, with Andrew Brown

Welcome back to the EPPiC Broadcast! We’re kicking off season 7 with Andrew Brown, Associate Vice President of Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. As an attorney, Andrew has represented children in the child welfare system, advocated for the rights of parents, and helped build families through domestic and international adoption.

Andrew breaks down some recent major wins for Texas families in the child welfare system. Texas recently passed into law five bills that help families, which will take effect very soon. These new laws guarantee that parents under investigation in child welfare cases have access to legal representation, replace anonymous child abuse reporting with confidential reporting, and more. Andrew explains these recent reforms in more detail, plus how they will affect families who find themselves involved in child welfare investigations.

How Is That Legal?: Breaking Down Systemic Racism One Law at a Time

Kee Tobar and expert guests break down examples of systemic racism in the law and policy. By the end of each episode, you’ll understand the forces behind everyday injustices that make us ask, “How in the world is that legal?” How Is That Legal is a podcast from Community Legal Services of Philadelphia and Rowhome Productions.

Resilient Voices & Beyond

The mission of the Resilient Voices & Beyond podcast is to create a platform for the voices that were once silenced to be heard and received. We aim to showcase the hard work of community partners, leaders, advocates, activists, stakeholders, state and federal government agencies, policymakers, and legislatures, while empowering a new generation of foster care alum leaders. Through our podcast, we strive to educate our listeners on reforms, advocacy, policies, prevention, foster care, adoption, kinship, CCIs, JJ, and the child welfare system, while challenging and breaking away from the stigmas and labels surrounding these topics. We aim to create a dialogue on reform and advocacy that is already happening or needs to happen, ensuring that the voices of those affected by the child welfare system are heard and valued.