APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL IN DEPENDENCY PROCEEDINGS

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association is committed to improving the quality of representation in courts that serve children, youth and families;

WHEREAS, the American Bar Association has established as a priority the effective representation of children and families in accordance with Standards of Practice adopted in February, 1996;

WHEREAS, the ever-important need for quality representation of children and families in dependency matters has grown in recent years because of the impact of the drug crisis on poor families, increased reports of child abuse and neglect, reduced family access to resources, and the requirements of the Pennsylvania Juvenile Act that all parties to such proceedings shall be represented by counsel;

WHEREAS, the representation of children and families involved in dependency proceedings requires special skills, training and expertise, sensitivity, and certain minimum expenditures of time and resources;

WHEREAS, the First Judicial District Administrative Governing Board has proposed a Fee System for the compensation of counsel in dependency cases which provides $300 for the first year of proceedings per appointment and $150 for disposition subsequent to first year, which proposal fails to provide sufficient funds to provide adequate representation in such cases;

WHEREAS, the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas has invited the Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association to propose the design of a system for the appointment and compensation of counsel for children and indigent parents in dependency proceedings;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association supports implementation of a system of appointment and compensation of court-appointed private counsel for parties to dependency and adoption proceedings which:

  1. Limits eligible lawyers to those who are qualified to represent such parties, in accordance with standards of practice which reflect the American Bar Association Standards of Practice for Lawyers Who Represent Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases and other similar national and local guidelines, and which representation at a minimum requires: appearance at, preparation for and participation in all court hearings and conferences; attendance by the attorney (or a qualified representative) at Family Service Plan meetings and other service planning sessions; and fieldwork for investigations, client interviews and service provider contacts;
  2. Sets caseload limits not to exceed 110 cases per lawyer;
  3. Assigns lawyers and makes appointments on a fair, impartial and sequential basis;
  4. Compensates attorneys for representation services throughout the term of appointment, at levels which reflect the numbers of sibling children involved in and the complexity of the case, and includes both in-court service and out-of-court preparation, participation in case reviews and post-dispositional hearings and involvement in appeals, at a rate not less than $500 per case per year;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor will communicate to the President Judge, Administrative Judge of Family Court, and Administrative Governing Board of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County the positions stated herein and to take all necessary action to seek implementation of this Resolution.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: March 27, 1997