Reunification and Case Resolution Improvements in Office of Public Defense (OPD) Parents Representation Program Counties

By: Washington State Office of Public Defense. Published in: February 2010

Link to report

Link to PDF

This study finds that when parents have legal representation in child welfare proceedings, rates of reunification were higher.

Highlights include:

  • They examined “every case filed in each county for two three-month periods, from January 1, 2004 through March 31, 2004 (the pre-program period), and January 1, 2007 through March 31, 2007 (the postprogram period). These cases were reviewed for outcomes and case resolutions within 28-31 months after filing. All 14 of the state’s non-OPD Program counties’ cases were reviewed as well” (p. 2).
  • “In the 15 OPD counties, there was a statistically significant 10.4% increase in reunifications during the post-OPD program period, which represents a 39% rate of change in reunifications. 2. In the 14 non-OPD counties, there was a .7% decline in reunifications, which is not statistically significant and represents a -2.1% rate of change in reunifications” (p. 4).
  • “The OPD program resulted in significant increases in reunifications in cases filed in 2007 and tracked longitudinally through August 2009 in comparison to non-program cases filed three years earlier. The OPD program also resulted in a significant increase in earlier case resolutions. During the same time period, 14 non-OPD program counties’ cases showed no appreciable change in reunifications or earlier case resolutions. These results indicate that the OPD program is positively impacting parents’ ability to succeed in their cases and children’s ability to reunite with their families” (p. 5).

Categories: Children, Family, Family, Legal Aid Attorneys, Legal Aid Practitioners, Policymakers and Funders, Researchers and Academics, State-Specific

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