Going to court is confusing for anybody, and especially for children. When a child is involved with the Department of Children and Families through a Care and Protection or CHINS case, the court appoints an attorney to guide the child through the legal process. A court-appointed attorney has a duty to visit his or her child client, to learn what the client wants, to advise the client, and to speak with others involved with the child's life. In court, the attorney should advise the judge of the client's position, advocate for what the client wants, and protect the client's rights.

The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) has created standards of practice for Child and Family Law (CAFL) Attorneys. These standards act as a guide so that attorneys understand their responsibilities to children and so that children (and others involved with their lives) understand the role of attorneys. The performance standards for CAFL Attorneys are available on the CPCS website. Click on CAFL Trial Performance Standards, unless the case is on appeal. If the case is on appeal, click on Appellate Panel Performance Standards.

If you have questions about these performance standards or concerns about a child's attorney, please contact CPCS Child and Family Law Division at (617) 482-6212.

We encourage you to also contact the OCA at (617) 979-8360 or childadvocate@state.ma.us. The OCA is dedicated to working with CPCS, as well as the Juvenile and Probate and Family Courts, to make sure children's attorneys are well-trained and effective and children's rights are protected. Hearing about your experiences helps to inform our work as we examine the services provided to children in Massachusetts.