Legal Training

The Legal Services trainers provide training to child welfare professionals including SWAN LSI paralegals, county and SWAN affiliate caseworkers and attorneys on the laws that apply to child welfare proceedings including statutes, regulations, case law and administrative guidance. Recent trainings include:

Choosing the Permanency Goal(s)

Choosing the goal is one of the most important decisions in the life of a child welfare case. With the onset of the statewide Concurrent Planning Policy Implementation, choosing the right goal(s) is even more critical.  This training discusses the hierarchy of goals as defined in the Juvenile Act, discusses the legal differences between adoption and Permanent Legal Custodianship, explores a framework of questions to answer to guide and justify your choice of permanency goal, and explores concurrent planning issues in the goal choice process.

Conquering the Courtroom

Achieving permanency for children often depends on effective courtroom testimony by county child welfare agency workers and other service providers. Conquering the Courtroom is a comprehensive training on preparing for court, designed by SWAN’s Legal Services Initiative. This unique training covers everything from courtroom basics to caseworker anxiety and preparation and culminates in testimony practice. Participants will practice skills such as identifying and managing their own anxiety triggers, distinguishing facts from opinions and coping with cross-examination. The training is a three-part, nine hour training, which can be delivered in a variety of ways to suit the needs of the individual county.

Fostering Connections Revisited

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 brought significant changes in child welfare practice. Pennsylvania’s enactment of Act 80 and Act 91 of 2012 incorporated some of the key federal provisions into Pennsylvania state law. This three hour session will review Pennsylvania’s legislation and revisit the themes of strengthening Pennsylvania’s work with older youth, support for kinship care arrangements and efforts to improve educational outcomes for youth in the child welfare system. This session allows participants to discuss practice implications and see county agency progress on implementing the law.

Crossing Borders:   Immigration Issues in the Child Welfare System

Immigrant children and their families represent one of the largest, fastest-growing populations in the United States. Immigrant families who become involved with the child welfare system can face considerable obstacles to effective communication and access to services. Child welfare agencies working with these families may grapple with unfamiliar cultural issues and the challenges of doing good casework across international borders. As the immigrant population grows, child welfare agencies must respond to immigrant families’ unique needs. This three hour session explores some of the legal, policy and practice issues faced by child welfare agencies striving to serve immigrant families.

Opening Doors: Children of Incarcerated Parents

Every county deals with child welfare cases where the parents are incarcerated. These present challenges from every perspective: communication with the parent, meaningful casework, visitation and timely permanency. This three hour workshop clarifies legal issues about incarcerated parents, placing them in their social work and clinical context, and explores how caseworkers can support improved practices.

The Supplemental Security Income, SSI Safety Net

This three hour session explores how child welfare professionals can help children and families successfully apply for benefits; how these benefits can build a successful transition out of care, and how to improve transitions out of care.  This training has been offered twice to over eighty attendees.

New Options in Pennsylvania Adoption – An Overview of Act 101 of 2010

Act 101 of 2010 increased the options for “openness” in Pennsylvania’s adoption process in several ways. The act created a mechanism for families to enter into legally enforceable, voluntary agreements for post-adoption contact between adoptive families and birth relatives; renamed and expanded the scope of the Adoption and Medical History Registry; and expanded access to information from adoption records. Now that counties, agencies and families have some experience with the changes, this session will provide an overview of all three components of the act and includes a discussion of participants’ experiences and developing practices.  This three hour training is available online at

To request legal training, contact the Warmline at