The Children and Family Law (CAFL) Division provides legal representation to children and indigent parents in child welfare matters, including care and protection proceedings, children in need of services cases (CHINS), actions to terminate parental rights, state agency-sponsored guardianships, and any other child custody proceeding where the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is a party or where the court is considering granting custody to DCF. In Massachusetts, both children and indigent parents have a right to representation by counsel in child welfare cases. See G. L. c. 119, § 29 and Dep’t of Public Welfare v. J.K.B., 379 Mass. 1 (1979). Representation is provided by a panel of private court appointed attorneys and by staff attorneys in offices throughout the state.
Admission onto the CAFL trial panel is by application only and requires satisfactory completion of a 7-day training program combining substantive law and trial skills. See CAFL Trial Panel Certification Requirements. Upon completion of the trial certification training, attorneys are assigned to an experienced CAFL attorney for mentoring and support. Regional Coordinators also are available to provide advice and technical assistance to CAFL attorneys.
Admission to the CAFL appellate panel requires application and completion of our appellate training program. See CAFL Appellate Panel Certification Requirements.
“CHILD REQUIRING ASSISTANCE” LAW GOES INTO EFFECT NOVEMBER 5, 2012
MANDATORY TRAINING TO BE SCHEDULED THROUGHOUT THE STATE
Effective November 5, 2012, the CHINS law has been replaced by a new statute: the Child Requiring Assistance (“CRA”) law. CAFL will be presenting mandatory 2-hour trainings throughout the state for all attorneys handling Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) cases in the Juvenile Court. Because the changes to this practice are so extensive, we believe that this training must be required for all attorneys who want to continue to represent clients in CRA (f/k/a CHINS) cases. After July 1, 2013, any attorney who has not completed the training will no longer be able to represent clients in CHINS/CRA cases. Attorneys who choose not to take the training may continue to represent clients (and receive new assignments) in other child welfare matters.
As we begin scheduling training dates, we will email all attorneys about trainings in their area and we will post all training dates on our website, with instructions on how to register. Attorneys who are unable to attend a session in their county, may register for another session.
For a listing of scheduled CRA trainings, click here.
For a copy of the statute, a detailed summary of the new law, and other resource materials, click here.