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July/August 2011Vol. 12, No. 6How Effective Attorney Practice Can Improve Interstate Placements

Court Improvement Programs (CIPs) have been in place since 1993 when Federal legislation was passed to fund State programs to assess and improve the dependency court process. In 2008, State CIPs conducted and published assessments of interstate child welfare practice, revealing many areas in judicial and agency practice in need of improvement. In an article published in ABA Child Law Practice, author Scott Trowbridge drew on data from these assessments to discuss the role that the child welfare attorney can play in improving the timeliness of interstate placements. The article, “How Attorneys Can Improve Interstate Placements: Lessons Learned From State CIP Assessments,” describes several strategies child welfare attorneys can use to reduce delays:

  • Explore other potential placement options, such as relatives, early in the case 
  • Advocate for concurrent planning and visitation with potential placement options, such as out-of-State relatives
  • Advocate for a home study request, even if a placement may be further in the future
  • If the case is clearly headed to adoption, ask whether the State can complete a dual or a preadoptive home study
  • Because most States have streamlined processes for relative placements, clearly convey the relationship between the child and the proposed placement to the out-of-State agency
  • Talk to the prospective family about the steps they need to complete and periodically check with them about progress
  • Advocate for more frequent court or administrative reviews of the case
  • Assist out-of-State families in requesting an administrative review in cases in which the family receives a negative home assessment

This article is available in the October 2009 issue of the journal ABA Child Law Practice and can be found online:

The State CIP Assessments

The recommendations for improved child welfare attorney practice were derived from an analysis of data collected for State CIP Assessments on the Legal and Judicial Role in Interstate Placement, which were mandated by the Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006. States evaluated the court role in interstate placements by conducting surveys (more than 2,700) and interviews and reviewing case files. The individual State assessments include data as well as recommendations for improvements.

The State assessments are available on the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues website: