Demonstration Sites

What is a Demonstration Site?

An FJI demonstration site is a jurisdiction that wants to improve legal representation for both parents and children and is willing to commit to utilizing an interdisciplinary model for representation and/or to lowering attorney caseloads consistent with the FJI recommendations. In addition, FJI demonstration sites must be focused on utilizing data and a continuous quality improvement process to measure qualitative and quantitative outcomes.

Current Demonstration Sites:
  • Alameda County, California
  • Marin County, California
  • Santa Clara County, California
  • Solano County, California
  • Colorado
  • Orleans Parish Juvenile Court, 41st JDC, Louisiana
  • 13th Judicial District, New Mexico (Valencia and Sandoval Counties)
  • 2nd Judicial District, New Mexico (Bernalillo County)
  • Ohio (Cuyahoga  County)
  • Ohio (Summit County)
  • Washington State

FJI Demonstration Site Impact Report

Recent report on demonstration sites shows effectiveness of FJI model!

Featured FJI  Demonstration Sites

Cuyahoga County Public Defender Office

Cuyahoga County Public Defender Office launched its FIRST (Family Intervention Representation and Services Team)

In March 2021, the Cuyahoga County Public Defender Office launched its FIRST (Family Intervention Representation and Services Team) program, and our team works closely with the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services (CCDCFS). The FIRST program was developed to offer pre-petition services to help keep families intact without the need for formal court intervention or the unnecessary use of foster care. The team utilizes a multidisciplinary approach with a team of attorneys, social workers and parent advocates to help families facing crisis. CCDCFS helps identify families in danger of formal court filings requesting removal of a child from the home, and if there is an agreement that the family would be a good fit for the FIRST program and the family agrees – services begin with all parties. The FIRST team meets regularly with the parents, monitors progress, assesses the need for outside referrals for services, and helps continually assess the need for ongoing CCDCFS involvement. The FIRST team can also receive referrals from any outside agency regarding a family in need. The FIRST team has fostered relationships with many outside agencies including Legal Aid, EDEN, many services providers and Case Western Reserve University’s Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education.

Summit County Juvenile Court in Ohio created MRT – Multidisciplinary Representation Teams

In February 2021, the Summit County Juvenile Court in Ohio created MRT – Multidisciplinary Representation Teams to represent parents against whom child protective services have filed a dependency, abuse or neglect case. The program’s practice model has several aspects: All parents are offered the services of an attorney, a case coordinator and a parent advocate. Lawyers volunteer to be appointed as part of MRT and they agree to work on objectives likely to be on the case plan, from the time of the shelter care hearing. The case coordinator connects parents with resources to remove barriers to reunification. They also provide clinical case management. The criteria for an MRT case is that the MRT is assigned to the parent from whom the child is removed. Cases are screened out if they involve a criminal charge of abuse against a parent. The parent might have previous cases or this might be their first case. The parent advocate is someone with lived child welfare experience and who helps the parent understand the court process, guides them in their interaction with CPS and often accompanies them to service meetings and appointments or visits. MRT in Summit has had a beneficial impact on cases once they are filed but is now pivoting to include pre-petition representation so that more families can benefit from the Multidisciplinary approach including the relationships the MRT staff have with many community partners who intersect with families. 

New Mexico is a long time member of the FJI community and we want to celebrate and congratulate the newly opened Office of Family Representation and Advocacy (OFRA). The Office is implementing high quality interdisciplinary legal representation and practice infrastructure that promise to improve child and family outcomes.  OFRA’s work is driven by a fundamental respect for each family it serves, and its model uplifts the strengths, voices, and goals of its clients.

The Office of Family Representation and Advocacy Opens in New Mexico

Created as a new executive agency in the 2022 legislative session, OFRA opened its doors on July 1, 2023 under the leadership of Executive Director, Beth Gillia with the support of a legislatively mandated Oversight Commission. New Mexico stakeholders and FJI partners had spent decades in various efforts to improve the quality of representation that is statutorily required for children and parents. Incremental improvements were realized but ultimately it was clear that a centralized office with independence and authority to create policy and budgets was needed to provide the practice infrastructure that would support high-quality representation and advocacy. As in other jurisdictions, securing adequate funding is an ongoing challenge for OFRA.

Interdisciplinary practice built on cornerstone advocacy is the core of the practice model. OFRA Interdisciplinary Legal Teams include the attorney, a social worker and/or a family peer support navigator. The family peer support navigator is critical as this is a person with lived experience who has the dual role of peer support and system navigator. Their navigation is focused on non-clinical domains to secure the concrete supports and services that address housing, food insecurity, and employment that families need to stay together.

OFRA’s commitment to operational excellence and infrastructure includes emerging systems for case management, research and evaluation, quality monitoring, and budget management. OFRA’s strategic plan incorporates a logic model; standards for training and professional development as well as coaching and mentoring; performance standards with clear expectations for attorneys, social workers, and navigators; policies and a detailed practice manual; and a wide range of supports for legal teams.

We at FJI look forward to following OFRA as it steps up for New Mexico’s families.

Visit the OFRA website at

To learn more about the demonstration site commitment or if you are interested in becoming a demonstration site, please contact FJI Executive Member, Prudence Beidler Carr: