Tough Love

PBS Premiere: July 6, 2015Check the broadcast schedule »


Jurisdictions With The Institutional Model Of Representation:

  • A limited number of jurisdictions have an institutional body charged with representing parents in child welfare proceedings. There are many benefits to the institutional model of representation. Well-funded institutions can often provide their staff attorneys a range of support, including access to secretarial and administrative support, social workers and/or psychologists, regular training and good quality supervision and outreach and community resources.
  • Attorneys working at institutions are often mission- driven--dedicated to the cause of improving the child welfare system for children and parents--so there is a sense of camaraderie among the staff.
  • Moreover, institutions usually provide their staff attorneys stable salaries and benefits. For all these reasons, institutions may be able to attract high caliber attorneys.

Jurisdictions Without The Institutional Model of Representation:

  • Most jurisdictions across the country do not have an institutional representation model. Instead, these jurisdictions (when they provide low-income parents with attorneys at all) rely on volunteer attorneys and/or pay attorneys a fee for representing parents.
  • Jurisdictions might have what's called a panel or a contract attorney model. Often, although not always, these attorneys receive little support and supervision, little pay and an unpredictable workload. The quality of representation a parent client receives might suffer as a result.

Background Research Conducted by: Melissa Friedman, Outreach Director, Tough Love; Christine Tappan, MSW, CAG; Stephanie Wang-Breal, Director/Producer, Tough Love; and Carrie Weprin, Producer, Tough Love.