Call for Applications – NACC’s National Advisory Council on Children’s Legal Representation

What is the National Association of Counsel for Children, or NACC?  

The National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) is a nonprofit advocacy and membership association that supports and trains attorneys who represent children, parents, and social service agencies in child welfare cases.  NACC 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. 

NACC provides programs and resources that improve the quality of legal representation for children, parents and social service agencies; supports a national community of legal professionals; helps attract and retain diverse talent in the child welfare legal profession; and advocates for policies that advance children’s and parents’ rights, including the right to counsel. NACC works to #PromoteExcellence #BuildCommunity and #AdvanceJustice. 

What is NACC’s National Advisory Council on Children’s Legal Representation?  

The NACCLR is a group of young (18-30 year old) professionals, advocates and leaders, representing a diverse population across the country, who have lived experience in the child welfare system. They advise NACC’s staff and Board of Directors regarding projects, policies, and partnerships to help achieve our mission and amplify the voices of lived experience experts. 

The NACCLR works with staff to advocate for the rights of children in the child welfare system, especially the right to effective assistance of counsel, educates lawyers and judges on high-quality legal representation, contributes to written publications, and engages in a wide variety of other committees with NACC’s staff and Board of Directors.  NACCLR members receive advocacy training, professional development opportunities, and financial compensation for their time and travel expenses.   

If selected, NACCLR members commit to: 

  • Fulfilling a 2-year NACCLR membership term. 
  • Attending the first meeting of the NACCLR by videoconference and/or in-person at NACC’s 46th Annual Child Welfare Law Conference on August 10-12, 2023 in Minneapolis, MN, with travel, lodging, and conference registration paid for by NACC.  
  • Participating in a monthly 2-hour NACCLR phone call or virtual training/meeting. NACC staff will work with Council members to set the meeting schedule.  
  • Participating in quarterly one-on-one meetings with NACC’s Youth Engagement Manager 
  • Participating in at least one committee, staff department meeting, or workgroup in addition to attending monthly meetings. 
  • Maintaining professional conduct throughout their term representing NACC and interacting constructively with peers in a group setting.

    In exchange for their service, NACC will provide:  

    • Compensation: competitive hourly rate for monthly meetings that includes meeting preparation, reports, and attendance, as well as additional work on special projects.  The current rate is $50/hour.  Members that write articles for NACC’s publication The Guardian “Learning From Lived Expertise” section, will receive $250.  
    • Training on effective advocacy, adult learning, and policy development.  
    • An opportunity to network with lived experience experts and other professionals from other states and at the federal level. 
    • If appropriate, recommendation letters for other educational or professional development opportunities.  
    • All travel costs associated with participating in NACC’s annual conference or other required meetings or trainings.  


      All members must:  

      • Be at least 18-30 years of age at the start of their service.  
      • Have lived experience in the foster care system (including all out-of-home placements, facilities, kinship placements, shelters, etc.)  
      • Definition: “Lived experience” refers to the personal knowledge and exposure to specific circumstances and events, such as the involvement with the child welfare system and/or placement in foster care.  Specifically, individuals who were in foster care may be able to use their voice and share their unique experience to inform policy decisions for the benefit of children and families. 
      • Demonstrate the capacity to participate in advocacy or leadership involving child welfare policy, for example through recent or current volunteer positions, related employment, and/or by pursuing education in the legal, child welfare or social work fields.   
      • Demonstrate responsibility, self-drive and require minimal supervision.  


          Complete application on NACC’s website by April 21st, 2023.  This requires: 

          1. Complete online form; 
          1. Upload resume into the form above; 
          1. Upload one letter of recommendation into the form above. This letter can be written by a supervisor of a paid or volunteer position or by a teacher.  Please let us know if you need additional time to obtain the letter of recommendation after the application deadline. 

          If you have any questions, please contact: [email protected]  

          NACC Leadership Message from Executive Director Kim Dvorchak and Board President Leslie Starr Heimov

          Published in The Guardian, Vol. 43, No. 4 (Winter 2021)

          On December 13, 2021, the NACC Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve new NACC Recommendations for Legal Representation of Children and Youth in Neglect and Abuse Proceedings (NACC Recommendations), linked here.  Their adoption replaces and rescinds the 2001 NACC Recommendations for Representation of Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases and the 1996/1999 amended NACC Revised ABA Standards for Lawyers who Represent Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases.  

          This action marks another milestone in NACC’s journey to develop a child and youth-centered legal profession, advance the highest-quality of legal representation, and assist jurisdictions seeking to establish and improve attorney representation. The 2021 NACC Recommendations were co-designed by young people with lived experience in the child welfare system, NACC’s National Advisory Council on Children’s Legal Representation. We are deeply grateful for their contributions, as well as the many attorneys, individuals with lived expertise, and organizational partners who participated in this two-year process.  The feedback we received during two comment periods was invaluable.  

          The NACC Recommendations establish 10 primary duties of attorneys for children and youth which reflect our overall vision for effective, high-quality legal representation:
          1. Establish an Attorney-Client Relationship: Attorneys for children and youth should adhere to an expressed interest model of legal representation.
          2. Support the Attorney-Client Relationship: Attorneys for children and youth should maintain frequent contact and intentional communication, tailored to the client’s individual circumstances.
          3. Offer Legal Counsel and Advice: Attorneys for children and youth have an ongoing, affirmative duty to advise clients of their rights, educate them about the legal process, inform them of their options, and counsel their decision-making.
          4. Ensure Opportunity for Full Participation: Attorneys for children and youth should proactively ensure opportunity for meaningful participation in court hearings and other case events.
          5. Provide Competent Legal Representation: Attorneys for children and youth should provide competent legal representation.
          6. Provide Loyal and Independent Legal Representation: Attorneys for children and youth should guarantee loyalty and independence throughout their legal representation.
          7. Maintain Confidentiality: Attorneys for children and youth should adhere to the same confidentiality and privilege rules as they do for adult clients, consistent with state law.
          8. Advance Equity in Legal Representation: Attorneys for children and youth should engage in culturally humble representation and actively challenge inequitable treatment.
          9. Provide 360 Advocacy: Attorneys for children and youth should seek to understand their clients as whole people, inside and outside the context of the legal proceedings, and provide holistic advocacy.
          10. Preserve Continuity of Legal Representation: Attorneys for children and youth should endeavor to provide uninterrupted legal representation.

          We urge you to read this document in full, but here are a few highlights: 
          • Enhanced emphasis on client-centered attorney practice with greater time investment in out-of-court communication and zealous advocacy.
          • NACC’s prior recommended caseload cap of 100 has been reduced to 40-60 clients, to allow for the more robust level of engagement that research shows makes a difference.  
          • While the prior Recommendations took a neutral position on models of child representation, these explicitly endorse client-directed representation, consistent with NACC policy which preceded and followed the 2001 Recommendations.   
          • Overall, you will find a significant expansion of content, to provide more specificity to practitioners at this critical juncture in our field.  

          The NACC Recommendations were not designed to reflect the current national landscape of legal services for children. They envision the future of children’s justice.  NACC is aware that state statutes, funding and practice norms may currently restrict practitioners from implementing these Recommendations in full.  In these instances, we encourage practitioners to follow the NACC Recommendations as closely as possible.  

          Since our founding nearly 45 years ago, NACC’s purpose has been two-fold: to lead and support. To lead the development and advancement of the profession of children’s legal representation and to support the lawyers and organizations representing children with training, tools, informational resources, and networking opportunities.  NACC will continue to partner with, support, train, and serve children’s attorneys working in all jurisdictions and models, as well as attorneys representing parents and social service agencies.  Alongside practitioners, the ultimate beneficiaries of NACC’s programs are the children, youth, and families our community serves because it is through client-centered zealous advocacy that children, youth, and families can access justice in dependency court.   

          Thank you for being a part of this journey and for all your personal and professional contributions to the development of the field of children’s law.  From a cause to a profession, to a movement, we are NACC.  Together we are Promoting Excellence, Building Community, Advancing Justice.