Diane L. Redleaf *
A. Introduction to the Family Defense Center’s Model for Family Defense
This article discusses the key ingredients to the success of an unusual family defense organization, the Chicago-based Family Defense Center (the “Center”), which I founded in 2005 after a long career at both a legal services office and a public interest law firm. The Center uses a hybrid public interest law firm/legal services/pro bono network model, along with a sliding scale fee-for-service program, to fulfill its mission of advocating for justice for families in the child welfare system. The Center is devoted to addressing the needs of families, especially families who are targets of child protection investigations. By design, the Center works in a unique and highly specialized niche. But because child protection investigations arise from a wide range of allegations against family members, from domestic violence, to medically complex cases involving fractures and head injuries, to claims of sexual abuse, the practical and substantive expertise of the Center is very broad.