Lectures & Events

Quality Legal Representation for Parents – Cuyahoga County
JAN 10, 2014
8:30 AM - 3:30 PM
Moot Courtroom (A59)
CLE Credit
Approved for 4.75 hours of in-person CLE credit
Our nation’s child welfare system continues to undergo major reform as stakeholders strive to improve outcomes for children and families. The court system is a major component of the child welfare system and serves as one of the primary settings in which parties and stakeholders meet and are held accountable. During the conference, discussion will focus on how improving the quality and availability of parent representation can play a vital role in advancing outcomes for children and families, while at the same time produce savings for child welfare systems. Together we will also explore new data and the strategies for improved parent legal representation, which have proven successful across the country, and discuss barriers to improved legal representation for parents in Cuyahoga County and what can be done to address them. The discussion and approaches discussed at the meeting will help define what actions Cuyahoga County could take to improve outcomes for children and families through quality legal representation for parents.

This conference will be of interest to Ohio attorneys who work within the children’s services or child welfare agencies, who represent non-profit organizations that work directly with children, or who act as advocates for children in Ohio courts.
Speaker Information
Martin Guggenheim, JD, is the Fiorello LaGuardia Professor of Clinical Law at New York University School of Law. One of the nation's foremost experts on children's rights and family law, Martin Guggenheim has taught at New York University since 1973. He has published more than 40 book chapters and articles in leading law reviews in the United States, including Columbia, Harvard, Michigan and NYU Law Reviews. His most recent book, What's Wrong With Children's Rights, was published by Harvard University Press in 2005. In 1990, Guggenheim created NYU's Family Defense Clinic, which represents parents and other adult relatives of children in foster care in New York. A tireless advocate as well as an academic, Guggenheim has led countless efforts, including the creation of the Center for Family Representation in New York and his service as President of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform. In 1982, Guggenheim won Santosky v. Kramer, the Supreme Court case that requires clear and convincing evidence to terminate parental rights.

Susan Jacobs, JD, is founding Executive Director and President of the Center for Family Representation (CFR). She directs CFR’s overall program and vision and sits on its Board of Directors. Jacobs leads CFR’s policy work and sits on national, state and city advisory commissions on child welfare and court reform. Ms. Jacobs has litigated on behalf of adults and children in Family Court, New York State Supreme Court and in Federal Court. Prior to founding CFR, she served as the Director of Family Law and Senior Managing Attorney at the Legal Action Center (LAC) in NYC where she represented parents and litigated on behalf of individuals with HIV, alcohol and drug related disabilities. She was a member of LAC’s Senior Management, where she supervised a team of 25 professional and support staff and was responsible for the organization’s national training and policy portfolio. She is a graduate of Cornell University. In addition to her law degree from Brooklyn Law School, she has a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of North Carolina.

Mimi Laver, JD, is the Legal Education Director for the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law. Her work focuses on helping states improve permanency outcomes for children, and on legal representation of parties in dependency cases. Additionally, Mimi directs the Opening Doors Project, which provides tools to judges and advocates to improve practice related to LGBTQ youth in foster care.

Justice Helen M. Meyer (ret.), is distinguished jurist in residence at the William Mitchell College of Law. She served as a justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court from 2002 to 2012. Before her appointment, Meyer worked as a civil trial lawyer and mediator for more than 20 years. Her civil trial practice included mediation and arbitration work. She was the owner of Meyer and Associates in St. Louis Park, since 1996. In 1987, she was a founding partner of the law firm Pritzker and Meyer in Minneapolis. Before that, she was an associate attorney with the Minneapolis law firm Schwebel, Goetz, Sieben and Hanson. From 1999 to 2002, Meyer was a member of the Minnesota Judicial Merit Selection Commission. Justice Meyer graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in social work, and later received a JD from William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul.

Michael Patterson is the acting director of the Michigan Bureau of Child Welfare in the Department of Human Services.

Martha L. Raimon, JD, is a senior associate at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP). She leads the CSSP team that monitors New Jersey’s compliance with a consent decree to improve the state’s child welfare system. She also advances CSSP’s work to achieve reforms in family court. Prior to joining CSSP, Raimon directed the Incarcerated Mothers Law Project for the Women’s Prison Association, which provides incarcerated and formerly incarcerated parents with information about their rights and responsibilities to their children. She also directed the Family Law Unit at South Brooklyn Legal Services and was an editor of Interrupted Life: Experiences of Women in Prison in the United States. In 2009, Raimon was awarded the Cornell Law School Alumni Exemplary Public Service Award. She is an attorney with 20 years of experience working in the field of child welfare and has special expertise in the intersection of child welfare and criminal justice policies.

Ronald Richter, JD, is the commissioner of the New York City Administration of Children’s Services. He is committed to building upon the innovative reforms put in place over the last several years including the agency’s use of data to monitor child protection cases, enhancing the quality of child care and early education services, improving relations between ACS and the Family Court, and efforts to realign the City’s juvenile justice system. Prior, he served as a Judge in the Family Court of the State of New York and as Family Services Coordinator for the City of New York. Commissioner Richter was the ACS Deputy Commissioner for Family Court Legal Services from 2005 to 2007. Commissioner Richter was an attorney at The Legal Aid Society from 1991 to 2005, where he worked with ACS and its predecessor agencies representing children in juvenile delinquency, child protection and parental rights proceedings. He is a member of the Family Court Advisory Committee of the New York State Supreme Court, First Department, as well as the Council on Children of The Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Commissioner Richter earned his B.A. from Tufts University, his M.S. from Boston University College of Communications and his J.D. from Boston University School of Law.

Patricia Rideout, JD, is the administrator of Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services. She has 30 years of experience in the child welfare field, both as a lawyer and social work administrator. Rideout previously served as a senior consultant to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Family to Family initiative and as Project Executive with Case Commons, Inc. Rideout is the former Deputy Director for Direct Services at Cuyahoga County Department of Children & Family Services, and former director of Foster Care and Adoption at Bellefaire JCB in Shaker Heights, Ohio. She held a number of positions, including Program Director, during eight years at Lucas County Children Services. She has also been a Juvenile Court Magistrate in Toledo, and Director of the Guardian Ad Litem Clinic at the University of Toledo College of Law. Rideout is a graduate of Northwestern University and Stanford University Law School.

Vivek Sankarah, JD, is a clinical professor of law in the Child Advocacy Law Clinic and director of the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy. Prof. Sankaran's research and policy interests center on improving outcomes for children in child abuse and neglect cases by empowering parents and strengthening due process protections in the child welfare system. Sankaran sits on the Steering Committee of the ABA National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System and is a member of the ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty. He has litigated numerous cases on behalf of parents before the Michigan Supreme Court. He also has authored scholarly pieces and practical resource guides to assist professionals working with parents in the system and regularly conducts national and statewide training on these issues. He also was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the Child Abuse Prevention Board. Sankaran earned a BA from the College of William and Mary, and JD from Michigan Law. After law school, he joined The Children's Law Center (CLC) as a Skadden Fellow and became a permanent staff attorney with the CLC in September 2003. In 2011, he was named the Parent Attorney of the Year by the Michigan Foster Care Review Board.

Honorable William Thorne, Jr., (ret.), served on the Utah Court of Appeals from 2000 until 2013. Prior to that, Judge Thorne served on the Third Circuit Court and then the Third District Court. Thorne has also worked as a tribal court judge in multiple states and was a former president of the National Indian Justice Center. He has served on various other boards and committees. Judge Thorne received his BA degree from the University of Santa Clara and his JD degree from Stanford Law School.

Joanna Woolman, JD, is resident adjunct faculty at the William Mitchell College of Law. Professor Woolman directs the college’s Reentry Clinic, which assists women leaving prison with civil legal issues with a focus on reestablishing relationships with children and family, as well as the Child Protection Clinic, which provides direct representation to parents in the child protection system. Professor Woolman researches, writes, and presents about women’s experiences in the criminal justice system, prison, and reentry. Professor Woolman also helps coordinate statewide training for parents’ attorneys. She formerly served as assistant state public defender for the Minnesota State Public Defender’s Office. She received her BS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and JD from the University of San Francisco School of Law.

8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Welcome and Introduction
Martha L. Raimon, Center for the Study of Social Policy
Pat L. Rideout, Administrator, Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services
9:00 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. Lecture: National Project to Improve Representation for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System
Professor Martin Guggenheim, New York University School of Law Family Defense Center
9:45 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Break
10:00 a.m. - 12:30 a.m. Panel Discussion: Best Practice: Model Programs on the Ground: Providing Quality Legal Representation for Parents in Child Welfare Proceedings, the Outcomes and Results

Sue Jacobs, Center for Family Representation
Hon. Ron Richter, New York City Administration of Children's Services
Professor Vivek Sankaran, University of Michigan Law School
Michael Patterson, Michigan Bureau of Child Welfare, Department of Human Services
Professor Joanna Woolman, William Mitchell College of Law
Justice Helen M. Meyer, (ret.) Minnesota Supreme Court
12:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Debrief of Morning Presentations and Conclusions Reached
1:00 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. Lunch
Luncheon speaker, Hon. William Thorne, (ret.) Utah State Court of Appeals
1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. Panel Discussion: Quality of Legal Representation for Parents: Barriers and Opportunities

Martha L. Raimon, Center for the Study of Social Policy
Mimi Laver, American Bar Association, Center on Children and the Law
2:45 p.m - 3:30 p.m. Summary and Action Steps
Pat L. Rideout, Administrator, Cuyahoga county Division of Children and Family Services

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