Child & Family Services

The City Attorney’s Dependency & Mental Health Team plays an integral role in advocating for the rights of some of the City’s most underprivileged demographic—San Francisco’s children and their families—by representing and advising their client, the Family and Children Services Division of the Human Services Agency (HSA) and its 300 social workers.

HSA serves the City’s children by investigating alleged abuse and determining the appropriate next steps to take, which often includes the removal of the child from the home. When this happens, a petition is filed with the court, and the Dependency & Mental Health Team will then represent HSA in all legal proceedings that follow. As a result, the attorneys on the Dependency & Mental Health Team spend most of their days litigating in court. Annually the Dependency & Mental Health Team has a caseload of approximately 2,400 active cases.

The Dependency & Mental Health Team works with HSA to ensure that the department acts within all local, state and federal regulations. Additionally, they train new social workers and provide continuing education to all child welfare workers regarding child welfare laws, legal procedures and department protocols. The team also provides general counsel advice to the other divisions of HSA, including divisions serving the adult indigent population through public assistance, housing and other services that lead to self-sufficiency.

In order to provide the City’s children and families with the best services possible, the Dependency & Mental Health Team continually works with many institutions to promote concordance within the many departments and committees concerned with child and family care, including: The Department of Child Support Services, The District Attorney’s Office and their Child Assault Unit, the Department of Children, Youth & their Families, The Departments of Public Health and Mental Health, The Departments of Juvenile and Adult Probation, and Court Appointed Special Advocates.