Effective agency-court collaboration is essential to the achievement of timely outcomes for children and their families within the child welfare system. Judges and attorneys operate under detailed ethical and practice considerations within the judicial system, which has developed specific guidelines for applying those standards in child dependency and family court cases. This section contains standards for judges and legal representatives developed by national organizations, as well as State and local examples.
ABA Practice Standards and Tools
National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues
Contains American Bar Association standards of practice for lawyers who represent children, parents, and agencies in child welfare cases.
Better Counsel for Children and Parents: What the Research Says
The Chronicle of Social Change
Explains the need for legal counsel in dependency court as evidence proves justice is better served when parents and youth have legal representation.
Catalog of Standards for Judicial Practice in Child Welfare (PDF - 1040 KB)
Wisconsin Supreme Court Children's Court Improvement Program (2005)
In Reassessment of State Court Performance in Children in Need of Protection or Services Cases
Presents provisions of Federal and Wisconsin law and other mandates that apply to child welfare cases, as well as actions to be taken by the court as identified in standards set by national court organizations.
Judge's Guide to CASA/GAL Program Development (PDF - 1669 KB)
National CASA Association (2010)
Explores the judge's role in planning, developing, and maintaining a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) or guardian ad litem (GAL) program, as well as ethical considerations for the judge's involvement. Ethics Supplements from 2007 and 2010 are included in this edition.
Promoting Quality Parent Representation Through Standards of Practice (PDF - 76 KB)
ABA Child Law Practice, 26(1), 2007
Discusses the development of American Bar Association standards for parent representation in child welfare cases and how attorneys can use them to achieve the best outcomes for children and their families.
The RESOURCE GUIDELINES: Supporting Best Practices and Building Foundations for Innovation in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases (PDF - 313 KB)
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (2009)
Provides an overview of Resource Guidelines and how it has been used to support and guide court and systems reform across the country.
Practice Guidelines for Attorneys Practicing in the Dependency Court (PDF - 233 KB)
Describes minimum standards of practice expected by the San Francisco Unified Family Court. Guidelines address expectations for attorneys at all phases of the case, from investigation through appeals.
Standards for Category F Guardian Ad Litem Investigators (PDF - 56 KB)
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The Trial Court, Probate and Family Court Department (2005)
Describes roles and expectations for guardians ad litem appointed to investigate the facts of custody cases in Massachusetts.
Standards of Practice for Child Protection Attorneys Practicing in Juvenile Matters
Connecticut Commission on Child Protection (2007)
Provides standards for child protection attorneys representing parents and for attorneys and guardians ad litem representing children in child protection cases in Connecticut. Each standard includes a requirement followed by actions on how to fulfill the standard and commentary on why the standard is necessary and how it should be applied.
Standards for Guardians Ad Litem (PDF - 28 KB)
Virginia Courts (2007)
Contains professional and educational requirements for appointment as well as performance standards for representation of children as a guardian ad litem in Virginia.
Superior Court of the District of Columbia Child Abuse and Neglect Attorney Practice Standards (PDF - 75 KB)
Superior Court of the District of Columbia, District of Columbia Courts, Family Court Advisory Rules Committee (2003)
Defines practice standards for the roles of counsel for children, parents, and the child welfare agency in child abuse and neglect cases.