Effects of parental and attorney involvement on reunification in Juvenile dependency cases

September 1, 2011

Individuals in the dependency system believe that it is important to have parties present at early decision-making hearings without much empirical support. This paper examines how involvement of mothers, fathers, and their respective legal representatives at early hearings (preliminary protective, adjudication, disposition, and first review) influences reunification in juvenile dependency cases. Analyses indicated the likelihood of returning children to the parents was significantly higher when the mother and the mother's attorney was present at early decision-making hearings. Results also indicated that the presence of the father significantly increased the likelihood of returning children to the parents they were removed from at only two specific case events. The presence of the father's legal representative was a significant predictor of reunification at the disposition hearing only. Implications for theory and policy are discussed.