- September 2018
- Vol. 19, No. 7
The Important Role of Lawyers as Partners in Prevention
Attorneys and judges play an important role in the child welfare system and helping to keep children safe. A recent article in Child Law Practice Today written by Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau, discusses the need to enhance partnerships with the legal system in order to create a well-functioning, effective child welfare system. Dr. Milner notes that true child maltreatment prevention is feasible only through strong collaborations with other agencies and organizations that serve the needs of children and families, including courts, schools, medical and other service providers, public and private agencies, and communities.
Reflecting on how a consent decree called for the state to revise how it served children and families while he was the state child welfare director in Alabama, Dr. Milner highlights the federal vision for reshaping child welfare in the United States. He explains how the Alabama consent decree pushed the state to center its child welfare services on respecting the parent-child relationship, taking an individualized approach to casework practices and service delivery, and valuing input from families and children—a focus he hopes to apply across the country. Further, the decree eventually led stakeholders to adopt guiding principles that focus on strengthening families and cross-system and community collaboration. In particular, collaboration between the legal and judicial community and the child welfare system can play a major role in preventing unnecessary placements by diligently working to keep families together, promoting child and family well-being, and recognizing the role of community supports..
"Reshaping Child Welfare in the United States: Lawyers as Partners in Prevention" is available at https://www.americanbar.org/groups/child_law/resources/child_law_practiceonline/child_law_practice/clp-today-2018/january---december-2018/reshaping-child-welfare-in-the-united-states--lawyers-as-partner.html.