The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is seeking private attorneys to join the Children and Family Law (CAFL) Division appellate panel. CAFL appeals are appeals of final judgments in care and protection, termination of parental rights, guardianship of a minor, contested adoption, and other child welfare proceedings. Most cases concern intervention by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families in family life. The work of the CAFL appellate panel attorneys includes interviewing and visiting clients, conducting legal research, writing motions and briefs, and arguing cases before the Massachusetts Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court. All CAFL appeals get oral argument. Private panel attorneys handle the vast majority of CAFL appeals; other CAFL appeals are handled by the CAFL Appellate (staff) Unit. This posting is not for a staff position; it is for private attorneys to obtain certification to receive, and be compensated for, CAFL appellate appointments. Compensation is $55/hour. New CAFL appellate attorneys receive free mentoring for several years. Private panel attorneys submit bills to CPCS and must agree to follow all billing and other requirements set forth in the CPCS Assigned Counsel Manual, available at:
Applicants must be admitted to the Massachusetts bar or be eligible for admission by June 30, 2020. Admission into the training is competitive and not all applicants will be admitted. All admitted applicants must attend the three-day CAFL appellate training program scheduled for May 5, May 6, and May 7, 2020, at the office of Community Legal Aid, 405 Main Street, Worcester, Massachusetts. The agency actively seeks to diversify its private attorney panel membership. Qualifications can be found here.
Applications are due on March 31, 2020, but will be accepted on a rolling basis until the training is filled. Applications are available here: CAFL Appellate Panel Application – May 2020
Kindly direct any questions to Andrew Cohen, CPCS/CAFL Director of Appellate Panel, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Boston Globe recently published an article on the severe shortage of foster homes for children removed from their parents. According to the article, Massachusetts has one of the worst records nationally for placement instability, lagging behind all but three states. “In 2018 nearly a third of children in foster care in Massachusetts were moved three or more times during their first year in the system.” Indeed, “virtually every night, DCF response workers, with kids in their back seats, are crisscrossing Massachusetts, or camping out at a 24-hour McDonald’s as they await word of a foster family with space for another child.” “Many DCF offices have become de facto day-care centers, with toddlers crawling amid computers and paper clips.”
The article included quotes from CAFL’s Deputy Chief Counsel Mike Dsida, who stated, ““Foster care is warranted in some cases because of the risks children face in their homes. But there has to be more thought given to the harm that they suffer as a result of being removed from their homes and placed in an overtaxed foster care system.” He continued: “That doesn’t mean that children should be left home in risky situations, but many more of them could be maintained safely in their own homes if parents are provided better support.” In a follow up article, the Globe reported the reactions of several state legislators to the piece. Their responses include advocating for increased funding for family support and stabilization services and possibly refiling a bill that would require an independent review of cases anytime a child experiences more than two placements after entering foster care.
The April 6 article can be found here.
The April 9 article can be found here.
CAFL attorneys should have received an e-mail from Virginia Peel on January 23, 2019 notifying them that DCF has implemented changes to its foster care review process. These changes include e-mailing attorneys notice of reviews. If you did not receive Virginia’s e-mail, you need to contact her ASAP to ensure that you receive notice of future reviews. Virginia can be reached at email@example.com. A copy of her e-mail, and the letter from DCF General Counsel Andrew Rome she references in it, are available here. The written foster care review policy isn’t finished quite yet. But it’s really important that you understand what’s different before you go to a review. For example; DCF has eliminated ratings – full, partial, or insufficient – for task compliance. Instead, the review panel will determine whether each person “demonstrated the desired behavioral changes.” Virginia’s e-mail includes a link to four brief training videos about the new foster care review process. You can watch them here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF2PqsUUKpjh5I27AQmhd9Vh6UGClHjzE. Additionally, Carmen Andrews and Linda Silva in the Fall River CAFL office transcribed the third and fourth videos – “Participate in a Foster Care Review” and “Follow-Up on a Foster Care Review” – which explain how reviews are supposed to be conducted and DCF’s responsibilities following reviews, respectively. The transcripts are available here. Thank you, Carmen and Linda! Stay tuned – we will let you know when the new foster care review policy is available.
Updated Foster Care Review Determination Questions
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has issued new Juvenile Court Rules for the Care and Protection of Children, effective on November 5, 2018. The new 2018 rules will replace the 2007 Juvenile Court Rules for the Care and Protection of Children. Along with these Rules, the Juvenile Court has issued new Standing Order 2-18 governing Time Standards for care and protection, CRA and delinquency cases. The new time standards are also effective November 5, 2018. See below for links to the new Rules and Standing Order, along with a memorandum summarizing the new Rules prepared by CAFL’s Ann Narris.
New Juvenile Court Rules for the Care and Protection of Children
Juvenile Court Standing Order 2-18, Time Standards
CPCS Memorandum Summarizing the New Juvenile Court Rules
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services responsible for issues of mental health and substance use, recently released a letter with recommendations for the treatment of pregnant and parenting women with substance use disorder and their infants. The text of the letter, containing many useful links, is available here: https://www.publiccounsel.net/cafl/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2017/08/SAMSHA-Dear-Colleague-Letter-2017-2.pdf