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May 2022Vol. 23, No. 4Updated Recommendations for Legal Representation of Child and Youth in Neglect and Abuse Proceedings

The National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) recently released an update to its cornerstone resource, Recommendations for Legal Representation of Child and Youth in Neglect and Abuse Proceedings, which was originally released in 2001. In a press release, NACC notes that the recommendations are widely recognized as child welfare law best practices. Two decades later, the updated standards were rewritten to emphasize youth voice, equity, and high-quality legal representation.

Unlike NACC's 2001 recommendations, which were largely drafted by lawyers, the new standards were developed in coordination with young professionals with lived experience in the child welfare system. The recommendations call upon attorneys and other members of the legal system to anchor legal representation around the voice and interests of children and youth. 

The standards provide a list of 10 primary duties of attorneys for children and youth that reflect this priority:
  • Establish an attorney-client relationship
  • Support the attorney-client relationship
  • Offer legal counsel and advice
  • Ensure opportunity for full participation
  • Provide competent legal representation
  • Provide loyal and independent legal representation 
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Advance equity in legal representation
  • Provide "360-degree" advocacy 
  • Provide continuity of legal representation