Seals of the Court of Appeals and Superior Court
District of Columbia Courts

Counsel for Child Abuse and Neglect

General Information


The Counsel for Child Abuse and Neglect (CCAN) Office is a branch of the Family Court of the District of Columbia Superior Court. The CCAN Office maintains a list of qualified attorneys who are available for appointment in child abuse and neglect cases. The office also processes the orders appointing counsel in both new and ongoing cases. The CCAN Office provides initial and ongoing training to attorneys who represent children, parents, and caretakers in child abuse and neglect cases. The Office screens adult parties for financial eligibility for court appointed attorneys and assists attorneys who have legal and social work questions about child abuse and neglect cases.

The CCAN Office staff consists of a branch chief, who is an attorney, a social worker, and two deputy clerks. The clerical staff handles case assignment processing, financial eligibility, and inquiries. In addition, the CCAN Office distributes a newsletter with legal, training, and social work updates for attorneys.

The Superior Court has adopted Practice Standards which regulate the performance of attorneys practicing in the child abuse and neglect area pursuant to Administrative Order 03-07. Those standards are in the following document:

PDF Name Download PDF
CCAN Attorney Practice Standards Download

In addition to working with the CCAN trained court appointed attorneys, the CCAN Office also works with the Children’s Law Center which has an agreement with the court to provide representation for some children and caretakers in child abuse and neglect cases. Children's Law Center has staff attorneys who act as guardians ad litem. This organization also recruits and trains pro bono attorneys to represent caretakers who are considering seeking adoption, guardianship, or legal custody of a neglected child. Find their website at

CCAN Practitioner

What do CCAN and Special Education attorneys do?

CCAN attorneys represent indigent parents and act as guardians ad litem for children who are the subject of child abuse and neglect cases in Family Court. Special education attorneys appointed in child abuse and neglect and juvenile delinquency cases represent the education decision makers of the children who are the subjects of these cases.

How do I become a CCAN, GAL, Special Education, PINS, Juvenile Delinquency, Mental Health or Mental Habilitation Panel attorneys eligible for court appointments?

The Family Court is accepting applications from attorneys interested in becoming eligible for the following Family Court Panels: CCAN, GAL, Special Education, Juvenile Delinquency, Post-Commitment Juvenile Attorney, Mental Health and Mental Habilitation. The application and additional information is available on the CCAN General Information page. Please contact CCANStaff [at] with any questions about the application process for any of the panels.

Is there any additional information I can read about CCAN attorney practice?

Additional information can be found in the Child Abuse and Neglect Attorney Practice Standards, the Special Education Attorney Panel Practice Standards, the Plan for Furnishing Representation in Neglect Proceedings, and the CJA and CCAN Fee Schedule.

What are the scheduling procedures for Family Court child abuse and neglect cases?

Please see the Procedures for the Scheduling of Child Abuse and Neglect Hearings and the 72 Hour Scheduling Chart.

How do CCAN attorneys sign up for days they will be available to accept court appointments?

CCAN/GAL Panel attorneys sign up online for days they will be available to accept cases. The online signup takes place on the 10th of each month (or next business day if the 10th is a weekend or holiday) between 8:30 and 5:00. Attorneys establish a password protected account on the signup website here.

What is Child Protection Mediation?

Child protection mediation provides an opportunity for parents, attorneys and social workers to meet with a neutral mediator in a confidential setting to discuss alternative methods of resolving a child abuse and neglect case, including a discussion of services for parents and children. The sessions take place in Court Building C, 410 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001. See more about Child Protection Mediation

Family Court Panels

What are the Family Court Panels?

The D.C. Superior Court Family Court maintains lists of attorneys who have been vetted and approved to represent indigent parties in several types of family court proceedings, including:

  • Abuse & Neglect (CCAN and GAL)
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Mental Health
  • Mental Habilitation
  • Juvenile Post-Commitment
  • Special Education

Panel members are compensated at an hourly rate that is set by statute. The current rate is $110 per hour. Certain compensation limits apply, although there are exceptions to those limits.

Panel members must participate in an initial training to familiarize themselves with panel practice and the subject matter area of the panel. New panel members are assigned a mentor who is a seasoned panel member to assist them as they gain knowledge of the practice area.

All panel members also are required to complete a fixed number of continuing legal education hours each calendar year. Additionally, the court maintains a four-year cycle at which time all existing panel members must re-certify.

Who Can Apply to Become a Panel Member?

Any D.C. Bar member in good standing who maintains an office in the D.C. metropolitan area can apply to serve on one or more panels.

Panel applications are considered by a committee comprised of D.C. Superior Court Judges and Magistrate Judges who preside over Family Court cases. While the committee prefers applicants with some exposure to or experience in the subject matter area of the panel applied for, special consideration will be given to applicants who speak Spanish. Panel attorneys must pass a Spanish-language test to be certified to represent Spanish-speaking clients.

What Type of Cases Does Each Family Court Panel Handle?

Abuse & Neglect (CCAN) – Counsel for Child Abuse & Neglect (CCAN) panel members represent parents and caregivers whose children are the subject of proceedings brought by the government due to concerns of abuse or neglect. Find the Practice Standards applicable to this panel and the GAL panel here: CCAN & GAL Practice Standards

Abuse & Neglect (GAL) – Guardian ad Litem (GAL) panel members represent the best interests of the children who are the subjects of those proceedings. Find the the Practice Standards applicable to this panel and the CCAN panel here: CCAN & GAL Practice Standards

Juvenile – Juvenile panel members represent children and youth accused by the government of having committed offenses that would be crimes if they were adults. Find the the practice standards applicable to this panel here: Juvenile Practice Standards

Mental Health – Mental Health panel members represent individuals who the government seeks to have undergo mental health treatment against their will. The court must consider whether the person is a “danger to self” or a “danger to others” within the meaning of the law. Find the practice standards applicable to this panel here: Mental Health Practice Standards

Mental Habilitation – Mental Habilitation panel members represent individuals who have been found to have intellectual disabilities and come under the jurisdiction of the Family Court. The practice standards applicable to this panel can be found here: Mental Habilitation Practice Standards

Juvenile Post-Commitment – Juvenile Post-Commitment panel members represent children and youth throughout their commitment to the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services. The practice standards applicable to this panel are being developed.

Special Education – Members of the Special Education Panel (SPED) represent the Education Decision-Makers of children and youth involved in neglect and juvenile cases. They are usually appointed in an ongoing case when the judge determines that there is a need for a SPED attorney. FInd the practice standards applicable to this panel here: Special Education Practice Standards

When Can I Apply?

The Family Court Panels Committee considers applications during two time periods each calendar year.

  • Submit applications by April 30 to be considered during the first time period of the year.
  • Submit applications by October 31 to be considered during the second time period.

All panel attorneys must re-certify on a four-year schedule. The next re-certification period will be scheduled in 2027.

Family Court

Presiding Judge: Hon. Darlene M. Soltys
Deputy Presiding Judge: Hon. Kelly Higashi
Director: Avrom D. Sickel, Esq.
Deputy Director: Toni F. Gore

Moultrie Courthouse
500 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Get Directions
Hours of Operation

8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Telephone Numbers

(202) 879-1212

Counsel for Child Abuse and
Neglect (CCAN) Office

(202) 879-1406