48 Fam. L.Q. 597 (2014-2015)
The Importance of Family Defense

handle is hein.journals/famlq48 and id is 631 raw text is: The Importance of Family Defense
MARTIN GUGGENHEIM*
I. Introduction
Over the past decade, there has been a growing national movement to
advance the rights of parents and families in child welfare proceedings.
Spearheaded by the National Parent Representation Steering Committee
at the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law, the
movement's purpose is to achieve procedural and social justice for all
families involved with child welfare systems, through legal, legislative,
and policy advocacy. Above all else, we seek to ensure that every parent
who is in jeopardy of having a child removed from his or her care by a
child welfare agency is able to secure excellent legal representation dur-
ing the entire length of the court process. We are in the midst of creating
a new field-the field of family defense.
Family defenders are lawyers and other advocates working with par-
ents in court or administrative proceedings brought against them by the
local child protection services agency. These proceedings are variously
known as dependency, child neglect, child abuse, or a child protec-
tion, depending on the locality. In some of these cases, the local agency
may be seeking nothing more than a protective order of some kind, direct-
ing that a caregiver do or refrain from doing something. In other cases, the
agency may be seeking a child's removal from his or her family or the
child's continued placement in foster care. In still other proceedings, the
agency may be seeking permanent termination of parental rights. In all
these proceedings, the state, through the exercise of its parens patriae or
police powers, charges parents or other caretakers with being inadequate
in the rearing of children.
* Fiorello LaGuardia Professor of Clinical Law, Co-director Family Defense Clinic, New
York University School of Law. This article is adapted from a chapter to be published in
REPRESENTING PARENTS IN CILD PROTECTION PROCEEDINGS (Martin Guggenheim & Vivek
Sankarin, eds., forthcoming 2015).

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