Study of Parental Legal Representation in Child Welfare

Parents involved in child welfare court cases face steep challenges navigating the court process. Few parents have experience in advocacy, knowledge of the rules of family court, or of their rights as parents. Stakeholders including the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Children’s Bureau promote an interdisciplinary team approach to parent representation that includes out-of-court engagement.

Funded by Casey Family Programs and in partnership with New York University School of Law, Action Research is conducting a study to understand different models of parent representation. The study compares the outcomes associated with different models of parent legal representation in the New York City Family Court and seek to understand the processes that contribute to these outcomes. The evaluation takes a mixed-methods approach, using propensity score matching techniques to compare quantitative outcomes as well as interviews with parents, court staff, attorneys, and other key stakeholders to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the different models.