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Child welfare law has become an increasingly complex area of practice that requires lawyers to not only understand complex federal and state law and procedure, but also detailed institutional information regarding child welfare funding streams, treatment and placement options, medicine, mental health, and child development. All of this takes place in a context of heart-wrenching abuse, neglect, and poverty and a complex and under-resourced bureaucracy which both under-responds and overresponds to presenting problems. What was once a cause has become a profession for highly trained and skilled attorneys. Child welfare law has arrived as a distinct legal specialty, as evidenced by the extensive body of state and federal law and procedure, law school curriculum, scholarship, continuing legal education, and national and state standards of practice for attorneys.


Reproduced with permission. Copyright 2010 National Association of Counsel for Children, all rights reserved. Originally published as Duquette, Donald N. and Anne M. Haralambie. "Child Welfare Law and Practice: Purpose and Use of this Publication." Introduction to Child Welfare Law and Practice: Representing Children, Parents, and State Agencies in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases, 2nd ed.Donald N. Duquette and Anne M. Haralambie, xxxv-xxxvi. National Association of Counsel for Children. Denver, Colo.: Bradford Pub. Co., 2010

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