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Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel: Promoting Steps 1 and 2 of Building Evidence


The Colorado Lab is partnering with the Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel (ORPC) to build evidence for their model of interdisciplinary team representation.

Interdisciplinary team representation pairs an attorney with a social worker or parent advocate to address root causes of child welfare involvement, promote long-term family strengthening, and protect the fundamental right to parent. Interdisciplinary representation is part of a continuum of legal advocacy efforts used to support child and family well-being through high-quality legal representation.

“[We] bridge the gap to the attorney, whose job needs to be that litigation piece. A lot of the time attorneys don’t have the flexibility that we do. They don’t have the availability that we do. It’s really easy for a client to feel like they’re on an island alone. So if they’ve got a parent advocate or social worker that’s helping them feel like they’re not alone, then that bridges the gap.”

Social worker participating in interdisciplinary team

The Colorado Lab is supporting the ORPC in building capacity for this model and advancing its impact by first focusing on Steps 1 and 2 of evidence-building – program design and identifying outputs. Through a “numbers and narratives” mixed methods approach, the what, how, and who of interdisciplinary representation was explored and synthesized, using a combination of data indicators, qualitative narratives, and visuals. Further defining the model in clear and transparent ways is critical to further strengthening the approach, communicating how the model is positioned to drive outcomes, and contributing to state and national field-building on client-centered representation. Model definition is also foundational to a rigorous outcomes evaluation using cross-systems data, which the Colorado Lab and the ORPC will prioritize next in this ongoing evidence-building partnership intended to drive sustained change.

For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Everson.