DCFS Advocacy For Dads

DCFS Advocacy For Dads

Lawyers will take the time to listen to your concerns. You and the Lawyer will work together to determine the specific issues. Once this has been accomplished, steps can be taken toward a resolution. The Lawyers are customer-friendly in that they address issues in a timely manner and maintain an impartial viewpoint. If the Lawyers are unable to answer your question, they will suggest a resource that is better able to assist you.

The Advocacy Office does not:
• Investigate actions that do not involve DCFS or the agencies with whom we contract;
• Investigate the acts or decisions of courts, judges or their staff;
• Investigate the Office of the Public Guardian or the Attorney General;
• Investigate agencies of the federal government; or
• Accept or investigate reports of child abuse or neglect
There are several roles or functions that an Lawyer may play in supporting a child with a disability and his or her family. They may include:
• Listening to all parties in a believing and nonjudgmental manner;
• Clarifying issues;
• Suggesting options;
• Documenting;
• Locating and providing information;
• Modeling appropriate behaviors and boundaries;
• Speaking on the parent/child’s behalf when they cannot speak for themselves;
• Helping the family with written correspondence or phone calls;
• Attending meetings;
• Problem solving;
• Educating families;
• Assisting parents in locating other supports; and
• Following up.
All DCFS case records are confidential irrespective of whether or not a petition has been filed in Dependency Court, this includes:
• All documents filed in a juvenile court case;
• Any agency document pertaining to a child who is or was the subject of an investigation; or
• Any information, records, reports, photographs, tapes or electronic data obtained during the course of any investigation.
All DCFS staff members, including support staff, are charged with the responsibility of maintaining the confidentiality of case records. Failure to adequately protect the confidentiality of the records in DCFS’ control could result in legal action being taken against the individual responsible for the breach of confidentiality as well as DCFS. All DCFS employees are prohibited from requesting, viewing or obtaining any case record information (written or electronic) for any purpose other than the completion of their assigned work. In order to keep all DCFS case records confidential all partially completed forms, case notes, worksheets, extra copies or photocopies which contain any person and/or case-specific information pertaining to any task and which are no longer needed are to be shredded. If a shredding machine is not directly available to the CSW, the documents shall be placed in a collection bin expressly designated for material that is to be shredded.

Under the easements, all duties regarding the appointment of an independent Lawyer remain. Independent Lawyers are responsible for determining the most appropriate manner in which to support the person/career and take into regards current government guidance on social distancing, shielding and isolation.

An Independent Lawyer is an Lawyer working independently of the Local Authority and appointed under the Care Act. The role of an Independent Lawyer is different to the role of a general Lawyer because they are not just supporting the person to have a voice, but to facilitate and maximize their involvement in a whole range of adult Care and Support processes.
Under the Care Act, the Local Authority must arrange for an Independent Lawyer to be available to represent and support the person (or career) if:
• There is no appropriate other person to support and represent them; and
• They feel that the person (or career) would experience substantial difficulty being fully involved in the Care and Support process without support.
Substantial difficulty applies to one or more of the following areas:
• Understanding relevant information relating to the process or function taking place;
• Retaining that information;
• Using or weighing up that information as part of the process of being involved; or
• Communicating their views, wishes or feelings (whether by talking, using sign language or any other means).
The Local Authority duty applies when it is:
• Carrying out a needs assessment with a person (regardless of whether this is a face to face, telephone, online or supported self-assessment);
• Carrying out a careers assessment (regardless of whether this is a face to face, telephone, online or supported self-assessment);
• Preparing a Care and Support Plan with the person;
• Preparing a Support Plan with a career;
• Revising a Care and Support Plan;
• Revising a Support Plan;
• Carrying out a child’s needs assessment for transition purposes;
• Carrying out a child’s career’s assessment;
• Carrying out a young career’s assessment; and
• Safeguarding Enquiry or Review.
Determining Substantial Difficulty
The Regulations state that when deciding whether a person would experience substantial difficulty in one of the listed Care and Support processes the Local Authority must have regard to:
• Any health condition the person has;
• Any learning difficulty the person has;
• Any disability the person has;
• The degree of complexity of the person’s circumstances, whether in relation to their needs for Care and Support (or Support) or otherwise;
• Where the assessment or planning function is the carrying out of an assessment (regardless of whether the person or career has previously refused an assessment or not); and
• Whether the person is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect.

A determination of substantial difficulty is not a determination about mental capacity. Where there are concerns about a person’s capacity to be involved in the Care and Support Process or any likely decisions to be made the Local Authority should assess their capacity under the Mental Capacity Act and consider whether an Independent Mental Capacity Lawyer (IMCA) should be appointed under the Mental Capacity Act. See Other Types of Advocacy Support that may be Appropriate for further guidance around this

The Local Authority must not make arrangements for a person to be an Independent Lawyer unless it is satisfied that the person:
• Has appropriate experience;
• Has undertaken appropriate training;
• Is competent to represent and support the person(or carer) for the purpose of facilitating that their involvement in any listed assessment and planning function (including having adequate knowledge of the persons or careers rights under the Care Act, of Local Authority processes and of support and service options available in the area);
• Has integrity and is of good character (including obtaining a Criminal Records Check as part of this test); and
• Has an arrangement in place to receive appropriate supervision.
Local Policies for the Appointment of Lawyers

Under the Care Act the Local Authority should have specific local policies clarifying arrangements for the:
• Appointing of Lawyers outside of their local area;
• Appointing of Lawyers where people are placed out of the area temporarily; and
• Appointing of Lawyers to support people who move from their area to another area following assessment.
The Role of an Independent Lawyer
To the extent that it is practicable and appropriate to do so an Independent Lawyer must:
• Meet the person in private; and
• For the purpose of promoting Wellbeing, and provided that the person has consented, consult with;
• People who are, or have been, engaged in providing care or treatment for the person in a professional capacity or for remuneration; and
• Other people who may be in a position to comment on the person’s wishes, beliefs or values (e.g. family members, careers or friends).
• For the purpose of promoting Wellbeing, where the person lacks capacity to consent, and the Independent Lawyer is satisfied it is in their best interests to consult, consult with;
• People who are, or have been, engaged in providing care or treatment for the person in a professional capacity or for remuneration; and
• Other people who may be in a position to comment on the person’s wishes, beliefs or values (e.g. family members, careers or friends).
An Independent Lawyer must assist the person in;
• Understanding the purpose of the Care and Support process they are involved in;
• Communicating their views, wishes or feelings;
• Understanding how their Care and Support needs, (or Support needs in the case of carers) could be met by the Local Authority or otherwise;
• Making decisions in respect of Care and Support (or Support) arrangements; and
• Challenging the local authorities decisions if the person (or carer) so wishes.

An Independent Lawyer must also:
• So far as is practicable, make sure the person understands the duties of the Local Authority under the Care Act;
• So far as is practicable, make sure the person understands their own rights and obligations under the Care Act;
• In the case of carers, to make sure the career understands their own rights and obligations under the Act, and also the rights and obligations of the person they provide care for;
• Make representation as necessary to ensure that the person (or career’s) rights are upheld; and
• Where they have concerns about the manner in which the Care and Support function has been completed, prepare a report for the Local Authority outlining the concerns they have.
An Independent Lawyer may examine and take copies of any relevant records (health or social care records) relating to the person when:
• The person has capacity, is able to consent and does consent to the records being made available to the Independent Lawyer; or
• The person does not have capacity and is not able to consent but the Independent Lawyer considers it in their best interests for the records to be provided.

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It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

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