ENHANCING THE QUALITY OF PARENTAL LEGAL REPRESENTATION ACT OF 2011 . . . FOR FATHER’S ONLY?


H.R.3873 — Enhancing the Quality of Parental Legal Representation Act of 2011 (Introduced in House – IH) 

HR 3873 IH

112th CONGRESS2d Session H. R. 3873To provide funds to State courts for the provision of legal representation to parents and legal guardians with respect to child welfare cases.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVESFebruary 1, 2012Ms. MOORE introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means


A BILLTo provide funds to State courts for the provision of legal representation to parents and legal guardians with respect to child welfare cases.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Enhancing the Quality of Parental Legal Representation Act of 2011′.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
      (1) In the Strengthening Abuse and Neglect Courts Act of 2000, the Congress found that `under both Federal and State law, the courts play a crucial and essential role in the Nation’s child welfare system and in ensuring safety, stability, and permanence for abused and neglected children under the supervision of that system’.
      (2) Child outcomes are improved and courts function more effectively when all parties have quality legal representation. Analysis of data from programs in New York and Michigan revealed that more than 50 percent of children avoided unnecessary foster care placement when all parties received high quality representation. According to the American Bar Association, a pilot program in the State of Washington to improve representation for parents resulted in `a 53.3 percent increase in the rate of reunification’.
      (3) In New York, children placed in foster care whose parents receive high quality legal representation spent on average 4.5 months in placement compared to a statewide average of 2 1/2 years and re-entry rates of 1 percent compared to 15 percent statewide.
      (4) According to the American Bar Association, the cost per family for high quality legal services in New York was approximately $6,000 over the life of a case as compared to anywhere from $29,000 to $66,000 for 1 year of foster care for a child in New York City in 2010.
      (5) Training and standards of representation are necessary to ensure qualified representation. According to the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, parental representation is `often substandard, resulting in the failure of due process in these cases. As a result, numerous children are needlessly separated from their parents for extended periods of time and in many cases families are permanently severed through termination of parental rights orders’ and most states have no standard training requirements for attorneys representing parents in their state.

SEC. 3. AMENDMENTS TO THE COURT IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM.

    (a) Provision of Legal Representation for Parents and Legal Guardians With Respect to Child Welfare Cases- Section 438(a) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 629h(a)) is amended–
      (1) in paragraph (3), by striking `and’ at the end;
      (2) in paragraph (4)(B), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; and’; and
      (3) by adding at the end the following:
      `(5) to provide legal representation for parents and legal guardians with respect to proceedings described in paragraph (1).’.
    (b) Application- Section 438(b) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 629h(b)) is amended–
      (1) in paragraph (1)–
        (A) by striking `and’ at the end of subparagraph (B);
        (B) by striking the period at the end of subparagraph (C) and inserting `; and’; and
        (C) by adding at the end the following:
        `(D) in the case of a grant for any purpose described in subsection (a)(5)–
          `(i) a description of how the grant will be used to provide legal representation to parents and legal guardians;
          `(ii) a description of how the court will prioritize the provision of legal representation, including how and when attorneys will be assigned to represent a parent or legal guardian; and
          `(iii) a description of how courts and child welfare agencies on the local and State levels will collaborate and jointly plan for the collection and sharing of all relevant data and information to demonstrate how increased quality representation of parents and legal guardians with respect to child welfare cases will improve child and family outcomes.’; and
      (2) in paragraph (2)–
        (A) in subparagraph (C), by striking `or’;
        (B) in subparagraph (D), by striking `and (C)’ and inserting `(C), and (D)’; and
        (C) by redesignating subparagraph (D) as subparagraph (E); and
        (D) by inserting after subparagraph (C) the following:
        `(D) the purpose described in subsection (a)(5); or’.
    (c) Amount of Grant- Section 438(c)(1) is amended by striking `and (C)’ and inserting `(C), and (D)’.
    (d) Allocation of Funds- Section 438(c)(3)(A) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 629h(c)(3)(A)) is amended–
      (1) by striking `and’ at the end of clause (iii);
      (2) by redesignating clause (iv) as clause (v); and
      (3) by inserting after clause (iii) the following:
          `(iv) $10,000,000 for grants for the purpose described in subsection (a)(5); and’.
    (e) Funding- Section 436 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 629g) is amended–
      (1) in subsection (a), by striking `$345,000,000′ and inserting `$355,000,000′; and
      (2) in subsection (b)(2), by striking `$30,000,000′ and inserting `$40,000,000′.

 

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