Mission & Vision

Statement of Principles

FJI seeks to strengthen families through the provision of high-quality legal representation for children and parents involved in the child welfare system.

 We believe:

  • Every child and every parent must have high-quality legal representation when child welfare courts make life-changing decisions about their families.

  • The best and most effective legal representation for parents and children involves teams of lawyers, social workers, peer mentors, and other family-serving professionals.
  • In the importance of a unified message that children and parents deserve equal access to high-quality legal representation. 

  • In the importance of removing the stigma from families involved in the child welfare system. 

  • In challenging the structure of the legal system that can make children and parents unnecessary adversaries. 

How We Work

Led by the ABA Center on Children and the Law, the Children’s Law Center of California, and the Center for Family Representation, the FJI brings together a national collaborative of parents’ attorneys, children’s attorneys, researchers, educators and advocates working together to meet the initiative’s goals. Partner organizations participate in committees focused on:

  • Defining and building consensus around essential attributes of high-quality legal representation.
  • Building public support and understanding for the important and necessary role that high-quality legal representation for children and parents has in ensuring that children do not unnecessarily enter foster care or remain in foster care longer than necessary.
  • Changing the narrative about families who are involved in the child welfare system from one of shame and blame to understanding and potential.
  • Supporting public investment in high-quality legal representation for children and parents in child welfare cases.
  • Replicating successful models of child and parent representation, including examples where attorneys have reasonable caseloads, are trained to work with clients who have suffered trauma, and work as part of an interdisciplinary team with social workers and peer advocates.
  • Evaluating models of representation in practice and expanding the body of existing evidence on legal representation and its impact on child and family outcomes.