The Bill Spill

We spill the tea on the latest bills being put forth or enacted impacting the child welfare system in Virginia and nationally.

For some time now, a major concern within the Virginia legal system has been the quality of legal services for parents in child dependency cases (foster care cases). The issue of adequate compensation for attorneys representing families has come up over and over. By providing fair compensation, attorneys are better able to dedicate the time and resources necessary to thoroughly understand and address the unique circumstances of each family they represent. The HB893 bill proposed by Delegate Adele McClure is looking to:

  • Improve the quality of legal representation for parents in child dependency cases.
  • Achieve permanency for children within the foster care system by improving quality legal counsel for parents, which has been proven to reinforce positive outcomes for children.
  • Introduce new supportive training programs for parents’ legal counsel.

Del. McClure’s office commented on the bill, “My hope is for this bill to aid in supporting family reunification and safely reduce the length of time children remain in the foster care system.”

The bill holds parent counsel to qualification and performance standards, including, “mandatory training on these new standards as well as ongoing skills training that would meet annual recertification requirements.”

Del. McClure’s team further stated, “In Virginia, the compensation rates for court-appointed parent counsel haven’t been changed in over 20 years—they are long overdue for a raise. Judges are struggling to find attorneys willing to accept child dependency cases because the pay is so low. By increasing the pay, my bill will expand the number of qualified attorneys willing to accept these cases.”

The bill passed before the House and has been referred to the Senate.  It is being supported by the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Voices for Virginia’s Children and the Virginia State Bar Association. 

The Virginia Mercury reported on this bill earlier this month: