Author Archives: ebroderick

Do you want to help children and parents in crisis? Apply for our Springfield training!

For the last few years, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families has intervened in lives of Massachusetts families at an alarming rate. Most of these families cannot afford to hire attorneys. Fortunately, in Massachusetts there is a right to counsel for parents and children in state intervention cases. Unfortunately, there are not enough certified attorneys who have the time and training to zealously represent all these families in need.  The Children and Family Law Division (CAFL) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is inviting members of the private bar to apply for admission to the CAFL Trial Panel.  We are looking to increase the number of attorneys handling state intervention cases (typically referred to as “care and protection” or “termination of parental rights” cases) in the Massachusetts Juvenile Court. Because the shortage is most acute in western Massachusetts, we are particularly interested in applicants who are able to accept CAFL appointments in those courts.

Attorneys who are interested in pursuing this opportunity can find more information about the training and the link to submit your application here.

Here is some information that might help attorneys decide whether they are interested in joining this panel of litigators.

  1. Certification Training – We will be presenting a training in Springfield beginning March 30, 2020. Successful completion of the training will enable attorneys to be certified to accept assignments in state intervention cases. The training will take place on March 30-31, April 6-7, and April 13-14. Because this is New England, we have reserved April 2 as a snow date! One-day mock hearings will be scheduled on April 28, 29 and 30, 2020. If selected, participants must keep all three mock hearing dates open until assigned to a specific date and place for the mock hearing. The mock hearings will be located throughout the state. The training will be open to attorneys of all levels of experience, but trial experience is preferred.
  2. Assignment – Care and Protection/Termination of Parental Rights cases begin, most often, with a petition being filed ex parte by the Department of Children and Families. The attorney’s responsibilities for the case begin immediately upon assignment, as he or she must prepare for a potential emergency custody hearing to take place within 72 hours of any ex parte order (the “72-hour hearing”). These cases frequently continue to be court involved for 15 months or more. Children Requiring Assistance cases (or status offenses) are usually concluded within 15 months.
  3. Compensation – Private attorneys are paid at the rate of $55/hour for their work on Care and Protection/Termination of Parental Rights cases.
  4. Expectations Regarding Performance – Attorneys are required to abide by CAFL’s performance standards and meet other requirements set forth in CPCS’s Assigned Counsel Manual, found at https://www.publiccounsel.net/assigned-counsel-manual/.
  5. Support – Each new member of CAFL’s private attorney panel is assigned a mentor. The mentor is available to support the attorney for the first couple of years of practice, to introduce the attorney to court personnel and others, to assist in learning local practices, to attend initial court hearings, and to provide other support and assistance.

CPCS is committed to ensuring that the panel of attorneys accepting CAFL assignments is sensitive to the diversity of the client population it serves.  We will give preference to attorneys who commit to practicing in western Massachusetts and to attorneys who submit completed applications by Friday, February 14, 2020.  We encourage interested attorneys to apply early and not wait until the deadline.

 

 

 

Certification Training to Represent Children in Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) Cases

The Children and Family Law Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services is seeking qualified attorneys to represent children in Child Requiring Assistance cases in the Juvenile Court.  Admission to the CRA panel is by application only and requires completion of a two-day training.  Applicants must be members of the Massachusetts Bar, or be admitted to the Bar of another state and be eligible to practice law in Massachusetts.  All attorneys who accept CPCS assignments are required to maintain malpractice insurance.

The CRA Certification Training will take place on February 26th & 27th, 2020 at Community Legal Aid, 405 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608. We ask all applicants to also hold February 28th as a snow date. The training will run 9:00 – 5:00 each day.  Attorneys currently on the CPCS list to represent youth in delinquency proceedings may have portions of the training waived (i.e., sessions on adolescent development, school law, etc.).

Applications must be received no later than January 13, 2020.

More information and the application can be found here.

Seeking Counsel for Child Welfare Appeals

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:

https://www.publiccounsel.net/assigned-counsel-manual/

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: acohen@publiccounsel.net.

 

Seeking Counsel for Child Welfare Appeals

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:

https://www.publiccounsel.net/assigned-counsel-manual/

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: acohen@publiccounsel.net.

 

In a Broken Foster System, Some Kids Can’t Find a Bed For the Night reports Boston Globe

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.

 

 

Changes to DCF Foster Care Review Process

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 virginia.peel@state.ma.us. 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

New Juvenile Court Rules and Time Standards Effective November 5, 2018

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

SAMHSA Releases Recommendation Letter on the Treatment of Women with Substance Use Disorder and Their Infants

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