Respondent Parents’ Counsel play a critical role in achieving good outcomes for children involved in dependency and neglect proceedings by protecting due process and statutory rights, presenting balanced information to judges and promoting the preservation of family relationships. In 2005, the Colorado Supreme Court through the Colorado Court Improvement Program created the Respondent Parents’ Counsel Task Force, a group of child welfare professionals, to review the issues facing respondent parents’ counsel and to make recommendations to the Supreme Court and the Colorado Legislature. The Task Force structured its efforts into four main task objectives: (1) Advocacy for RPC Resources; (2) Specific Training for RPC; (3) Researching and Defining Structural Outcomes for administration of RPC services; and (4) Guidelines and Practice Standards. The pursuit of equitable funding for Respondent Parents’ Counsel was identified as an integral component of reform efforts.
To assist in identifying needs of attorneys, areas in need of improvement and baseline data for potential reform efforts, the Task Force commissioned a needs assessment. This assessment, performed by the National Center for State Courts, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the National Association of Counsel for Children, provides both a statewide overview of factors impacting Respondent Parents’ Counsel performance as well as an in-depth analysis of four counties: Denver County, El Paso County, Teller County and Weld County.
The results of the Respondent Parents’ Counsel Task Force Needs Assessment are now available.