Regional Counsel 4th District, FL: Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel
      Antony Ryan, Regional Counsel
   Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel
   Fourth District of Florida  
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Social Services Unit
Incorporating Social Workers into the legal team through the Social Services Unit:
In its primary civil function, RC4 operates as a public law firm dedicated to representing indigent parents in dependency court. RC4's Social Services Unit (SSU) enhances the legal representation provided to the parents in the dependency system by incorporating into the legal team a Forensic Social Worker or Forensic Family Advocate who engage parents directly and guide them through the reunification process. The integration of social workers is a nationally-recognized interdisciplinary model known as "holistic lawyering," whereby the legal and social service needs of clients are addressed in tandem. Research has shown the inclusion of social workers leads to less time for children in out-of-home care and better overall outcomes for families.

How the Social Services Unit of RC4 helps our clients:
The SSU professionals on staff help clients directly through tasks such as case management, linkage of appropriate resources, interfacing with providers and attending dependency-related proceedings. They also assist in a client's case through their role as an integral member of the legal team by sharing their knowledge and clinical insights with the case-carrying attorney who in turn, may then incorporate those insights into the legal advocacy for the client. RC4 is an approved field placement site for three universities with Master in Social Work programs. As a result, we have been able to amplify our impact with clients through the inclusion of MSW interns into SSU. RC4 attorneys, through intake and ongoing assessment with their clients, identify the clients they feel would benefit from SSU involvement in their legal case.
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