Legal Representation of ChildrenThis seminar will consider how best to define, organize and evaluate legal representation of children, ranging in age from birth to 18, in cases of alleged child abuse or neglect where children are in foster care or face the risk of foster care. We will invite some of the leading scholars and practitioners to consult with us as well as youth who are or have been in the system. Our questions will include: What should be the duties and responsibilities of the child's representative in civil child protection proceedings? Who should represent the child in such proceedings -- a lawyer alone, a social worker, a multidisciplinary team? How should the child's representative accommodate the child's wishes in setting the goals of the advocacy? What does the child representative do that makes a difference in a child's life? What organizational structure best delivers legal services for a child? In October 2009 the U.S. Children's Bureau of HHS named Michigan Law School the National Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System (QIC-ChildRep). This five year, $6 million project is to gather, develop and communicate knowledge on child representation, promote national consensus on the role of the child's legal representative, and provide empirically-based analyses of how legal representation for the child might best be delivered. The QIC-ChildRep is conducting the first ever random assignment experimental design research on child representation in the states of Georgia and Washington. This seminar will build upon and advance the work of the QIC-ChildRep.
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