In child welfare cases, legal advocates may represent families, typically parents, before a child is removed from the home or a petition is filed for abuse or neglect. This legal representation prior to petition aims to keep the family together, keep the children at home, and prevent the need for foster care.
The goal of pre-petition legal representation is to prevent unnecessary and traumatic separations of children from their families. This type of service is provided to families after they have come to the attention of the CPS – child protection agency but before they can file dependency petitions (requests for the removal of children). Due to systemic inequities, many families in certain communities lack adequate income, housing, and education. One way to ensure families have the resources and support they need to keep their children with them is by providing legal representation before a dependency petition is filed.
Parents can receive legal and social work advocacy through pre-petition legal representation programs that address a number of challenges, including custody and divorce; orders of protection; safe and affordable housing; public benefits; guardianship; special education; and more. Attorneys work with child protection agencies and families to address inequities and strengthen the social determinants of health during pre-petition legal advocacy. Family legal representation can make a significant difference in stopping an unjust eviction or addressing unstable living conditions; guiding families through the complicated process of accessing benefits and challenging improper denials; advocating for educational opportunities; and supporting families during child protection investigations.
Our goal is to help preserve families through high-quality legal representation.