By: Steve M. Woods, Alicia Summers, and Crystal Soderman Duarte. Published by: Family Court Review. Published on: April 20, 2016
This article finds that legal representation for parents in juvenile dependency hearings increased parent’s presence and that attorneys who received training in these cases were more likely to be at hearings throughout the case than those who did not receive training. Highlights from this study include: “For each percentage point increase in a parent’s overall presence at hearings, the likelihood that the final case outcome resulted in the child being returned to the parents or having the juvenile dependency petition dismissed also increased. This effect held regardless of whether the case was in the pilot or control group, as there was no significant interaction between parent percentage and pilot program participation” (p. 283). “For each percentage point increase in a parent’s overall presence at hearings, the likelihood that the final case outcome resulted in a PMC [permanent management conservatorship] to the department decreased. Once again, this effect held regardless of whether the case was in the pilot or control group” (p. 283). “The findings also indicate that pilot attorneys appeared at the 14-day, second permanency, and final hearings more often than control attorneys. In addition, pilot attorneys were present at a higher percentage of hearings across the life of the case than control attorneys” (p. 284). “The current findings suggest that a lack of legal representation is placing parents at a disadvantage with regard to having their children returned to them. This may also result in children being placed outside of the home for periods of time that are longer than necessary” (p. 286).