This is a full-time attorney position for DAC’s innovative pilot program, First Call for Families (First Call). First Call is a collaborative, prevention-focused endeavor with Santa Clara County’s First 5 and Social Services Agency (SSA). One of the first of its kind in California, this attorney-led interdisciplinary team will offer parents who are at risk of having their children removed crucial early access to legal advice and resources designed to help stabilize the family and, where possible, prevent unnecessary entry into the foster care system. Consisting of an attorney, a social worker and two mentor parents with lived child welfare experience, First Call’s interdisciplinary team will provide a creative, holistic approach to pre-petition advocacy and family-strengthening, focusing on parents who have been contacted by the Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) within the last 12 months or who are currently receiving informal DFCS services.
The First Call attorney will lead the team in providing the following core services: (1) advice calls from eligible parents on a toll-free warmline, (2) “know your rights” community presentations about child welfare system involvement, and (3) limited scope representation to assist with family stabilization and address specific areas of vulnerability such as housing instability, substance use disorder, mental health and domestic violence issues. If a formal DFCS petition is filed, the First Call attorney may represent the parent through the beginning stages of their legal case in dependency court. When appropriate, there will be a warm hand off to the parent’s ongoing DAC dependency attorney and the First Call team will proactively encourage a successful and communicative relationship with the family’s DFCS social worker to support the goals of family reunification and family preservation.