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May 2008Vol. 9, No. 4Update on Child Welfare Law Certification

Eight jurisdictions now offer training and certification for attorneys to become credentialed as Child Welfare Law Specialists. Since the first 85 attorneys were certified in 2006 by the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC), the certification program has continued to expand. Applicants for certification participate in NACC's comprehensive child welfare law competency process that assesses experience, continuing education, peer reviews, writing samples, and performance on a national child welfare law exam. Certification demonstrates that an attorney is well qualified to represent children, parents, and agencies in child maltreatment and dependency cases.

"Specialization legitimizes child welfare law as a true, tested legal specialty and validates our work while improving legal services to children, families, and State agencies, and we are very optimistic about the future of this profession," said Marvin Ventrell, NACC President/CEO.

The American Bar Association recognized child welfare law as a specialty in 2001, and in 2002 the Children's Bureau awarded a 3-year $600,000 grant to NACC to establish a program to certify lawyers who work in abuse and neglect cases as Child Welfare Law Specialists. The objective of the program was to help achieve safety, permanency, and well-being for children through improved legal representation. The grant supported NACC's pilot program for certification in California, Michigan, and New Mexico. Since then, training and certification have been introduced in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Iowa, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

For more information on NACC's certification program for Child Welfare Law Specialists, visit the NACC website: