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December/January 2019Vol. 19, No. 10Evaluating Best Practices for Improving Child Legal Representation in Child Welfare Cases

A research and demonstration (R&D) project for the National Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System (QIC-ChildRep) is testing the effects of training attorneys in its best practices model. QIC-ChildRep is a joint project of the Children's Bureau and the University of Michigan Law School with the goal of developing empirical knowledge to improve child and youth representation in child welfare cases.

The QIC Best Practice Model of Child Representation outlines the duties of a child's legal representative in and out of court and addresses the organizational and administrative supports related to training, compensation, and caseload levels. The model is based on current state laws, the project's needs assessment, and a review of the academic literature. Best practices for attorneys include six core skills:

  • Engaging with the child and advocating for him or her
  • Assessing child safety and protecting him or her without overreacting
  • Actively evaluating needs
  • Advancing case planning
  • Developing case theory
  • Advocating effectively

The R&D project is being carried out by two partners: Georgia's Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children and Washington State's Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care. The projects includes quantitative and qualitative measures and a comparison control group. Through these data, the QIC-ChildRep seeks to move the field toward a common understanding of what constitutes good representation for children in child protection proceedings and what improves child welfare outcomes.

For more information about the R&D projects, visit the QIC-ChildRep website at

Related Item

For more information on legal resources available on the QIC-ChildRep website, see the CBX article "QIC-ChildRep Posts Resources on Legal Representation," which is available at