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Bar News - September 5, 2008

Court Improvement Project Reports Survey Results


The New Hampshire Court Improvement Project (CIP) is a federally funded grant that supports collaboration between the courts and the court system participants in child abuse and neglect and juvenile justice fields. The CIP conducted a survey of court appointed parent attorneys in child abuse and neglect cases in March and April. There was an impressive response rate - fifty-five attorneys returned the survey. Below are a few highlights from the survey results:

· 36 of the respondents had been practicing as a parent attorney for seven or more years.

· 42 of the respondents felt there were not sufficient opportunities to participate in trainings regarding child protection issues.

The four highest rated "high priority" training topics identified were:

1. Recent case law that affects child abuse and neglect cases at state and federal level (33 responses)

2. DCYF Policies (33 responses)

3. Termination of Parental Rights Hearing (31 responses)

4. Understanding the impact of out-of-home placements on children (27 responses)

The CIP has been working to develop trainings and resources for parent attorneys based on the survey results. As part of that effort, the CIP will be offering the "ABA Trial Skills for Parent Attorneys" on October 3 at SERESC (Southeastern Regional Education Service Center) Conference Center in Bedford, NH. This day-long interactive training, conducted by ABA trainers, will provide parent attorneys with both practical knowledge and skill development based on NH law and procedure and will include a component about TPR (termination of parental rights) proceedings. This free training is offered to attorneys who are certified by DCYF and who are appointed as parent attorneys in child abuse and neglect cases. Space is limited.

The CIP has also entered into an agreement with the ABA to provide parent attorneys with an on-line subscription to the ABA’s Children’s Law Practice. This periodical is written to "provide lawyers, judges, and other professionals current information to enhance their knowledge, skills, and improve the decisions they make on behalf of children and families. Topics include: abuse and neglect, adoption, foster care, termination of parental rights, juvenile justice, and tort actions involving children and families."

The roll-out for the on-line subscriptions (available to download monthly) will be early to mid September. This subscription opportunity is offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please contact Sarah Fox, at if you would like to register for the ABA Trial Skills for Parent Attorneys on October 3rd or if you would like to receive the Children’s Law Practice publication or learn more about the training efforts of the CIP.

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