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Dataset Details

National Quality Improvement Center for the Representation of Children in Child Welfare (QIC-ChildRep)

Dataset Number: 212


Investigator(s)

Donald N. Duquette, J.D., Britany Orlebeke, M.P.P., Andrew Zinn, MSW, PhD, Xiaomeng Zhou, M.P.P.

Abstract

In October 2009, the U.S. Children’s Bureau named the University of Michigan Law School the National Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System (QIC-ChildRep). With funding of six million dollars over six years, the QIC-ChildRep was charged with gathering, developing and communicating knowledge on child representation and also with promoting consensus on the role of the child’s legal representative. These data were collected by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago as part of the evaluation of the QIC-ChildRep intervention.

The U.S. Children’s Bureau identified that one of the barriers to successful outcomes for children who come to the attention of the court in child welfare cases is a lack of a trained and effective representative who can advocate for timeliness and effectiveness in the agency and court handling of the child’s case. Assessments of America’s child welfare system regularly identify inadequate representation of children as a chief obstacle to achieving a well-functioning child welfare system. One of the major challenges from the Children’s Bureau was to provide the first ever random assignment experimental design research projects on the legal representation of children.

The QIC-ChildRep demonstration was based on the hypothesis that one of the barriers to permanency and stability for maltreated children was the lack of a trained and effective legal representative who was able to “enter the child’s world” to learn the child's needs and wishes and effectively advocate for the child in and out of court.

In its first phase (2010), the QIC-ChildRep conducted a nation-wide assessment of the state of child representation, culminating in the drafting of the QIC-ChildRep Best Practice Model, a set of standards and expectations based on the 1996 American Bar Association Standards of Practice for Lawyers Who Represent Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases. In its second phase, the QIC-ChildRep demonstration project was designed to test the hypothesis of whether attorneys practicing according to the QIC-ChildRep Best Practice Model would improve safety, permanency and well-being outcomes for children involved with the child welfare system, relative to attorneys whose practice may not accord with the model. Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago was the evaluator.

Two states agreed to become demonstration sites for the project: The Georgia Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children Court Improvement Program (GA-CIP), with 13 participating judicial districts representing 26% of Georgia’s child population, and the Center for Children & Youth Justice (CCYJ) and Washington Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA), on behalf of the Washington State Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care with 21 participating judicial districts representing 89% of Washington's child population.

In each of these sites, Chapin Hall’s evaluation was designed to answer a set of questions about the intervention’s impact on attorney behavior and a set of questions about treatment attorney impact on child welfare outcomes. In both sites, the goal was to answer these questions for a group of attorneys representing the typical range of ability, experience and motivation of attorneys practicing as child representatives. Each partner, as a result, was expected to include all attorneys practicing child representation in participating jurisdictions in the study.

Data Documentation