by the decisions made in these proceedings, and these children are also usually the
least able to voice their views effectively on their own. However, in many
jurisdictions, the courts do not appoint independent attorneys for all children in
abuse and neglect related proceedings. NACC insists that federal, state, and local
law should mandate that independent attorneys be appointed to represent the
interest of children in all such proceedings. In addition, the NACC believes that
CASA volunteers can serve an important role in ensuring that children and their
families receive appropriate services and assistance by investigating and reporting
to the court and by exchanging views and coordinating efforts with the children’s
attorneys. Children’s attorneys, however, remain uniquely qualified to provide a
voice for children in these legal proceedings through presentation of oral and
written submissions to the court. CASA volunteers can therefore supplement but
not supplant the efforts of children’s attorneys.
2. The NACC believes that child welfare systems must be funded adequately and must
offer a combination of preventive and reunification services to children and
families, as well as the placements and services needed by children in custody of
the state. In addition, child welfare systems must provide adequate case
management and permanency planning services to link children and families with
appropriate services, and to provide appropriate placements for children.
3. The NACC believes that the court system should be the vehicle for prompt and just
determinations in child abuse and neglect related proceedings – proceedings which
should minimize the further trauma to child victims. The NACC favors federal,
state and local programs to help bring court systems closer to these ideals. 75
I hope the reader finds this as unsatisfying as I mean to portray it. There are several glaring
problems with this list, the least of which is what was not included on it. Before focusing on what
NACC did not bother to discuss, it is worth carefully assessing what it chose to say. Let us begin
with its focus on lawyers. One might be inclined to give NACC credit for clarifying that it believed
all parties should be represented by counsel, an improvement over its published views when
NACC was founded in the 1970s, when its only focus was on a child’s right to representation. 76
However, it is difficult to conclude that NACC believed all parties equally deserve quality
representation. Undeniably, the thrust of the first issue on NACC’s list was on the need for children
to be well represented.
The Guide explained that children need lawyers because lawyers “play a critical role in
empowering children and ensuring that children’s views are heard in legal proceedings” and “the
presence of children’s attorneys is critical to ensuring the timeliness of proceedings.” 77 It even
went so far as to imply that, of all parties in child welfare cases, children are the most in need of
counsel. Its reasoning was that “[t]he children who are the subjects of these proceedings are usually
76 Id. at 5. (“The NACC was founded in 1977 to promote quality representation of children in the legal system”).
77 Id. at 7.