On Tuesday, CWLA joined with ABA Center on Children and the Law, the National Foster Care Coalition, and Children and Family for a congressional briefing in recognition of National Reunification Month. The briefing recognized the hard work of birth parents, parent advocates, and the courts in helping families achieve reunification by celebrating the trials, dedication, and accomplishments of parents who were successfully reunified with their children after placement in foster care.
Presenters included a circuit court judge from Prince George’s County, Maryland, two parent advocates who were once separated from their children but successfully reunified after working with the child welfare system and the court to regain custody, and the director from the Center For Family Representation in New York City, which works with families in crisis to provide free legal representation and social services to enable children to safely remain in their parents’ custody.
Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) who sponsored the briefing, spoke about her bill H.R. 3873, the Enhancing the Quality of Parental Legal Representation Act of 2011. This bill takes steps to ensure that when child welfare intervenes on behalf of allegations of abuse or neglect, parents will be afforded legal representation at all stages of their case. In addition, the bill increases funding for discretionary and other targeted grants to improve the quality of legal representation for parents. HR 3873 has yet to be reported out of the Ways and Means Committee.