May 2024 Policy Updates

Counsel for Kids State Legislative Updates

New Hampshire’s Children and Family Law Committee considered Senate Bill 463 on April 23. If passed, it would require the appointment of legal counsel for children placed in institutions or group homes and permit judicial appointment of attorneys for any child in child protection court proceedings. NACC submitted supportive written testimony. NACC State Coordinator Lisa Wolford also testified in support of the bill (hearing begins at 30-minute mark, see testimony at 1:26:50). The bill was voted out of committee with an “ought to pass” recommendation. It will move to the House floor.

Gov. DeSantis signed into law Florida Senate Bill 1224 “Protection of Children and Victims of Crime” on April 10. SB 1224 was amended to preserve the right to legal counsel for groups of children in the foster care system. We applaud the astute decision-making of lawmakers who once again recognized that children involved in these proceedings need lawyers of their own to ensure their voices are heard, their rights are protected, and they experience outcomes that keep them safely with their families and on a path toward success. While maintaining the status quo is a victory, it is time for Florida to take the next critical step of expanding access to legal counsel for all children in foster care proceedings.

Counsel for Kids Social Media Storm May 15

May 1 was Law Day and the start of National Foster Care Month. May 15 is the anniversary of the case In Re Gault – which guaranteed lawyers for youth experiencing the criminal legal system. At the intersection of access to justice and children lies the unfortunate reality that 13 states do not guarantee legal representation for young people experiencing the child protection system. On May 15, share on social media why #counsel4kids are important! See the social media kit for sample posts and graphics.

NACC Advocates for Support for Children and Families

NACC endorsed a foster care tax credit for short-term foster families, and also signed a letter asking Congressional leaders to support the health and well-being of children and families.

Amicus Updates

The Third District of the Texas Court of Appeals recently ruled on two cases in which NACC participated as amicus. The panel rejected appellants’ jurisdictional challenges and found that sufficient evidence was presented to restrain Texas’ attempt to investigate families facilitating gender-affirming health care for their transgender children. Read the opinions in Voe and PFLAG v Muth and Doe v Abbott.

NACC filed an amicus brief in Michigan regarding the federal law, research and best practices around legal guardianship.

April 2024 Policy Updates

Three State Legislatures Consider Client Directed Model of Representation

Iowa HF 2580 requires the appointment of legal counsel for children ten and older and a GAL attorney for children under ten. The bill saw two proposed amendments in March. The first would require the appointment of counsel and a GAL to youth under ten. The second would permit the same person to serve as GAL and counsel for a child under ten unless they could not adequately provide representation for both roles.

Kansas HB 2381 would require the district court to appoint an attorney as the representative for a child in Child in Need of Care proceedings and allow for the optional appointment of a GAL. The attorney is required to take direction from the child as the child develops capacity to direct, and determine what the child would decide if they are not capable of making an adequately considered decision. The bill stalled after Judiciary committee considered it on March 7.

Missouri SB 801 would require the court to appoint client-directed legal counsel for children involved in proceedings involving abuse or neglect. Counsel would represent the child at all stages of the proceeding, including appeal. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted to pass on the bill on February 28. The Senate will now review the bill to determine if it can be declared perfected.

NACC Advocates at the Federal Level

NACC signed on to extend the deadline for the American Rescue Plan’s funds for Homeless Children and Youth and endorsed two bills to support educational access for foster youth.

Amicus Update

NACC joined an amicus brief regarding the rights for non-respondent parents in New York child welfare cases.

Call for Nominations: 2024 Promoting Excellence Awards

Nominations Due May 31, 2024

Mission

The mission of the National Association of Counsel for Children advances children’s and parents’ rights by supporting a diverse, inclusive community of child welfare lawyers to provide zealous legal representation and by advocating for equitable, anti-racist solutions co-designed by people with lived experience. A cornerstone of NACC’s Strategic Plan is Promoting Excellence in legal representation.

The Awards

NACC’s Promoting Excellence Awards are presented annually to individuals and institutions making significant contributions to the rights and well-being of children and families through high-quality legal representation.   NACC invites nominations for individual attorneys, organizations, and law students who demonstrate excellence in their advocacy efforts for children and families. 

This year, award nominations will be considered in four categories:

  • Outstanding Legal Advocate
  • Outstanding New Lawyer
  • Outstanding Children’s Law Office/Agency
  • Outstanding Law Student

The awards will be presented in person and virtually during NACC’s 47th National Child Welfare Law Conference August 13 and online September 13.  The awardee need not be present to win, but each award includes one free dual-conference registration (onsite in Salt Lake City and online).  NACC will cover 2-nights hotel expenses for the Outstanding Law Student Awardee.

Call for Nominations

Nominations are submitted by a letter of nomination from the nominating individual or by self-nomination.  Supporting letters or additional signatures are encouraged and may be submitted alongside, media reports, and/or other supporting documentation (all documents must be combined in a single PDF).  

Nominations must be uploaded by the May 31, 2024 deadline.  

View https://naccchildlaw.org/awards/ to see prior recipients.

2024 Promoting Excellence Award Selection Considerations:

Outstanding Legal Advocate Award

  • Nominee has demonstrated excellence in legal representation and/or policy advocacy throughout their career in child welfare which helps to elevate standards of practice in their community.  High-quality legal representation includes knowledge of the law and legal procedure, social sciences and interdisciplinary matters, and zealous advocacy skills; and/or
  • Nominee has demonstrated dedication to client-centered practice and advancing equity and justice, including a demonstrated commitment to culturally humble, anti-racist representation, and an awareness of issues impacting youth who are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system; and/or
  • Nominee’s contributions have significantly promoted the legal rights, well-being, and opportunities of individuals in the child welfare system; and/or
  • Any other relevant information to be considered.

Outstanding New Lawyer Award

  • Nominee has practiced law in child welfare on behalf of children, parents, and or agencies for five years or less; and
  • Nominee has demonstrated excellence in legal representation or policy advocacy on behalf of children, parents, and/or agencies in the child welfare system (see above definition of high-quality legal representation); and/or
  • Nominee has demonstrated dedication to client-centered practice and advancing equity and justice, including a demonstrated commitment to culturally humble, anti-racist representation, and an awareness of issues impacting youth who are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system; and/or
  • Nominee has demonstrated early leadership and initiative in advancing excellence and equity in child welfare law, practice, and/or policy in their community; and/or
  • Any other relevant information to be considered.

Outstanding Children’s Law Office/Agency Award

  • Nominee has demonstrated excellence in law office/agency practice and management on behalf of children in the child welfare system;
  • Nominee exemplifies best practices for organizational representation as described in the Children’s Law Office Handbook, including multi-disciplinary representation and engaging peer advocates and young people with lived experience in the child welfare system;
  • Nominee has demonstrated leadership, influence, and impact in children’s legal advocacy and in child welfare law in their community/state;
  • Nominee has demonstrated a commitment to race equity and anti-racism in the office/agency’s internal practices and programming, as well as in child welfare law in their community/state;
  • Any other relevant information to be considered.

Outstanding Law Student Award

  • Nominee has demonstrated excellence in advocacy efforts for children and families during law school;
  • Nominee has demonstrated dedication to client-centered practice and advancing equity and justice, including a demonstrated commitment to culturally humble, anti-racist representation, and an awareness of issues impacting youth who are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system; and/or
  • Nominee has demonstrated early leadership and initiative in engaging in child welfare law, practice, and/or policy in their community; and/or
  • Any other relevant information to be considered.

2024 Promoting Excellence Awards Nominations

Award You Believe Nominee Should Be Considered For:(Required)
Accepted file types: pdf, Max. file size: 50 MB.
PDF

March 2024 Policy Updates

Iowa Joins Trend of States Moving Toward Client-Directed Legal Representation

On February 8, the Iowa judiciary subcommittee held a public hearing to consider House File 2209, which would require the appointment of legal counsel for children ten and older and the appointment of a GAL attorney for children under ten. Current Iowa law mandates GAL attorneys for all children. NACCLR member Kayla Powell testified in support of the bill. NACC submitted a letter of support. The subcommittee passed the bill on February 12, and the full committee approved it on February 19 and renumbered it as HF 2580.

NACC Advocates for Children, Families, and Young Adults

NACC signed letters to the Senate and Senate Leadership urging them to make the Child Tax Credit permanent to help lift children and families out of poverty. NACC also signed a letter urging Congress to ensure young people have the option to remain in foster care until age 21.

February 2024 Policy Updates

Counsel for Kids

Lived Experience expert Rebekka Behr explained at a Ways and Means Committee hearing that getting an attorney helped her get a drivers license, reconnect with her family, & navigate aging out of the child welfare system. See 50:30 mark.

10 Reasons Client-Directed Legal Representation for Children is Best Practice

Check out the new Counsel for Kids tool on client-directed legal representation.

NACC Supports Full-Service Community Schools

NACC signed a letter urging Congress to support Full-Service Community Schools.

February Organizational Membership Sale

The 25% Off Organizational Membership Sale is on now through February! Renew or upgrade at a discounted rate and receive 12 months added to your membership expiration date. Secure the benefits of membership for your organization, including discounts on conference registration, trainings, and more!

Contact Emily at [email protected] to renew or with any questions!

NACC is Hiring: Policy and Communications Associate

Job Title: Policy and Communications Associate

Reports to: Communications Manager

Application Deadline: February 29, 2024

Remote within the U.S.

NACC Job Purpose and Location

The National Association of Counsel for Children is a nonprofit professional membership and advocacy organization that trains and certifies child welfare lawyers and advocates for policy change to improve the lives of people experiencing the child welfare system. NACC’s Strategic Plan aims to accelerate the growth, experience, diversity, and leadership of a national community of child welfare professionals. NACC’s Policy and Communications Associate will be a new, full-time member of our team who will support our organizational communications and policy work, with a focus on our Counsel for Kids campaign to guarantee youth the right to counsel in child welfare cases.  NACC is based in Denver, Colorado with staff in multiple states. This posting is for a remote position, and the successful candidate can live anywhere in the United States.

Duties and Responsibilities

Communications Support:

  • Conducts writing, proofreading, and graphic design projects as assigned by the Communications Manager;
  • Helps produce written products such as marketing emails, grant reports, and donor relations materials;
  • Handles day-to-day management of NACC’s social media accounts;
  • Collects and drafts content for NACC’s monthly online newsletter;
  • Tracks data and analytics for digital communications;
  • Assists with updates to NACC’s website, including researching and implementing solutions to tech stack challenges;
  • Builds media lists and manages a database of journalists;
  • Maintains routine communications tasks in case of illness/absence of other team members.

Policy Support:

  • Develops and maintains Counsel for Kids resources, such as presentations, documents, and website content;
  • Supports the drafting and distribution of written legislative testimony, state and federal policy action alerts, and other advocacy materials;
  • Communicates, coordinates, and collaborates with various stakeholders;
  • Provides administrative support to the Counsel for Kids team, including correspondence with legislators and stakeholders, database management, meeting scheduling, agenda development and note taking;
  • Assists with policy events, initiatives, special projects, and presentations on various platforms;
  • In coordination with the Policy Counsel, attend briefings, coalition meetings and other events.

Other:

  • Attends internal NACC Team and Department meetings;
  • Helps staff NACC’s annual conferences;
  • Other tasks as assigned.

Travel:

  • This position does not include a great deal of travel, but may require up to 4 trips per year, requiring a 1-3 night stay.  NACC covers all travel expenses.

Qualifications

Essential Skills:

  • Strong writing and editing skills: ability to proofread for grammar, style, and formatting; 
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail;
  • Microsoft Office Suite: Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, etc.;
  • Strong time-management and organizational skills;
  • Commitment to NACC’s mission, vision, and policy framework, including a commitment to advancing the right to counsel, racial equity, and amplifying the voices of people with lived experience in the child welfare system;
  • Minimum 2 years work experience in communications, or 2 years policy support experience with a knack for tech/comms activities;
  • Strong skills in document layout and design, digital strategy, and social media;

Preferred Skills:

  • Lived experience in the child welfare system;
  • Website editing: experience with WordPress or similar platform;
  • Familiarity with social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok, social media scheduling platforms like Buffer, and mass email/marketing platforms like Constant Contact or Mailchimp;
  • Graphic design or video editing talents: Canva, Adobe, or similar platforms;
  • Data reporting skills: ability to track, report, and identify trends from data (for example: noticing and presenting patterns after reviewing google analytics, or using analytics to inform marketing decisions).
  • Interest in child welfare, nonprofit communications, membership organizations, marketing, law, access to justice, antiracism, and/or antipoverty issues.

Salary and Benefits

This is a junior level position, designed for a professional looking to grow their skills in the communications and policy space.  The starting salary range is $50,000-60,000, depending on experience.  Salaries are reviewed for increases every January. Benefits include health insurance (medical/dental/vision), SIMPLE IRA contribution, life insurance, 20 days paid time off (increases over time), and 17 holidays/ office closure days. Remote staff is provided office equipment, supplies, and travel expenses as needed.

Application Instructions

Applicants must apply through NACC’s website (below) and provide:

  1. Resume/CV;
  2. Cover letter which describes the applicant’s interest and experience relevant to the job description.

Please note: Finalists will be asked for two (2) professional references, and may be asked to demonstrate abilities through a sample writing, social media, or web editing project. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply by February 29, 2024. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Anticipated start date is as soon as practicable in April 2024

NACC Non-Discrimination Policy

It is the policy of the National Association of Counsel for Children not to discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of race, culture, ethnicity, national origin, religion or religious beliefs, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, or age. The NACC embraces diversity among its Board, staff, members, volunteers, and consultants. Candidates adding diversity to NACC’s staff are strongly encouraged to apply.

Alaska Custom Training Series

This training series is specifically designed for Alaska CINA attorneys (AAGs, Parent Attorneys, Attorneys for Youth), GALs (attorney and non-attorney GALs), Attorneys for Tribes, and Judicial Officers. Across three webinars, the presenter will use practice tips, hypothetical case studies, and polls to share knowledge, skills, and best practices, grounded in Alaska law, aimed at promoting high quality legal representation for parents, children, and the Department in Alaska CINA cases.

Registration is free to the first 50 registrants via the link below, with a wait-list open after the first 50. Registrants will receive access to all three live webinars and their recordings until December 31, 2024, and all session materials. REGISTRATION IS NOW FULL

Alaska Custom Training Series Agenda

Webinar Dates
Friday, Feb 23rd 1:00pm-2:30pm AK (Out of Court Advocacy)
Friday, March 1st 1:00pm-2:30pm AK (In-Court Advocacy)
Friday, March 8th 1:00pm-2:30pm AK (Advocacy for Connection)

Questions about registration or the training? Please contact [email protected].

January 2024 Policy Updates

NACC Supports Expanding Child Tax Credit

NACC joined hundreds of organizations in signing a letter asking Congress to expand the Child Tax Credit to address increasing child poverty rates.

Counsel for Kids Legislative Updates 

New Hampshire considered (retained) House Bill 535 (2023) during a closed interim Children and Family Law Committee session on October 31. As amended, it requires the appointment of legal counsel for children placed in institutions or group homes and permits judges to appoint attorneys to any child in child protection court proceedings. The committee made an “ought to pass with amendment” recommendation to the House. On January 3, the House floor adopted the recommendation. The bill’s next stop is House finance. Children and Family Law Committee chairs co-authored an op-ed endorsing the expansion of children’s access to legal counsel in child protection court proceedings. Companion Senate Bill 463 was introduced on January 3. 

On December 5, Florida interim House Children, Families, and Seniors subcommittee considered House Bill 185 (2024) that would revise Florida law to eliminate special needs categories of youth guaranteed legal representation and restrict judicial discretion to appoint legal counsel. Members of Foster Fairness and others testified in the public hearing. NACC submitted this letter of opposition.