HCCLR 24 APPOINTING AN ATTORNEY TO ALL CHILDREN INVOLVED IN A DEPENDENCY CASE (ABUSE OR NEGLECT PROCEEDING) SECTION 1. APPOINTMENT (a) Until required by statute or higher court authority, and subject to continued adequate funding being approved by the Asotin, Columbia and Garfield County Boards of Commissioners all children involved in a dependency case, ie, abuse or neglect proceedings; including terminations and dependency related guardianship proceedings, in the Hells Canyon Circuit shall be appointed an attorney to represent them at public expense before the first court hearing. The children of one family will be assigned the same attorney subject to any conflict of interest. (b) The applicable rules of professional conduct and any law governing the obligations of lawyers to their clients shall apply to these appointments. (c) The appointed attorney shall represent the child at all stages of the proceedings unless discharged by court order. (d) A child's right to counsel may not be waived. SECTION 2. QUALIFICATIONS (a) Only attorneys qualified through training and experience shall be appointed. The court will be the arbiter of the qualifications. (b) Attorneys shall receive initial training as soon as practicable. Thereafter attorneys shall receive periodic training specific to child welfare law at least annually. (c) Attorneys shall not be appointed to new cases when their present caseload exceeds 150 felony equivalents. SECTION 3. DUTIES AND SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION (a) A child's lawyer shall participate in any proceeding concerning the child with the same rights and obligations as any other lawyer for a party to the proceeding. (b) The duties of a child's lawyer include, but are not limited to: (1) taking all steps reasonably necessary to represent the client in the proceeding, including but not limited to: interviewing and counseling the client, preparing a case theory and strategy, preparing for and participating in negotiations and hearings, drafting and submitting motions, memoranda and orders, and such other steps as established by the applicable standards of practice for lawyers acting on behalf of children in this jurisdiction; (2) reviewing and accepting or declining, after consultation with the client, any proposed stipulation for an order affecting the child and explaining to the court the basis for any opposition; (3) taking action the lawyer considers appropriate to expedite the proceeding and the resolution of contested issues; (4) where appropriate, after consultation with the client, discussing the possibility of settlement or the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution and participating In such processes to the extent permitted under the law of this state. (5) meeting with the child prior to each hearing and for at least one in-person meeting every quarter; (6) where appropriate and consistent with both confidentiality and the child's legal interests, consulting with the caregiver, social worker ,and best interest advocate (CASA). (7) prior to every hearing, investigating and taking necessary legal action regarding the child s medical, mental health, social, education, and overall well-being; (8) visiting the home, residence, or any prospective residence of the child, including each time the placement is changed, (9) seeking court orders or taking any other necessary steps in accordance with the child's direction to ensure that the child's health, mental health, educational developmental, cultural and placement needs are met; and (10) representing the child in all proceedings affecting the issues before the court, including hearings on appeal. (c) When the child is capable of directing the representation by expressing his or her objectives, the child's lawyer shall maintain a normal client - lawyer relationship with the child in accordance with the rules of professional conduct. In a developmentally appropriate manner, the lawyer shall elicit the child's wishes and advice the child as to options. SECTION 4 ACCESS AND INFORMATION RELATING TO THE CHILD. (a) Subject to subsections (b) and (c), when the court appoints the child's lawyer, it shall issue an order, with notice to all parties, authorizing the child's lawyer to have access to: (1) the child; and (2) confidential information regarding the child, including the child's educational, medical, and mental health records, social services agency files, court records including court files involving allegations of abuse or neglect of the child, any delinquency records involving the child, and other information relevant to the issues in the proceeding, and reports that form the basis of any recommendation made to the court. (b) A child's record that is privileged or confidential under law other than this rule may be released to a child's lawyer appointed under this [act] only in accordance with that law, including any requirements in that law for notice and opportunity to object to release of records. Nothing in this rule shall diminish or otherwise change the attorney-client privilege of the child, nor shall the child have any lesser rights than any other party in regard to this or any other evidentiary privilege. Information that is privileged under the lawyer-client relationship may not be disclosed except as otherwise permitted by law of this state other than this rule. (c) An order issued pursuant to subsection (a) shall require that a child's lawyer maintain the confidentiality of information released. The court may impose any other condition or limitation on an order of access which is required by law, rules of professional conduct, the child's needs, or the circumstances of the proceeding. (d) The custodian of any record regarding the child shall provide access to the record to an individual authorized access by order issued pursuant to subsection (a). (e) Subject to subsection (b), an order issued pursuant to subsection (a) takes effect upon issuance. SECTION 5 CHILD REPRESENTATION PRACTICE STANDARDS The Court hereby adopts as best practice The Child Representation Practice Standards in the Administrator of the Court report, Meaningful Legal Representation for Children and Youth in Washington's Child Welfare System, copy available at the Court Administrator's Office. While not yet mandatory every reasonable effort shall be made to follow the standards.
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