Courts & Legal Assistance

The well-being of children in the Commonwealth is affected by a variety of court functions and related types of legal assistance.

Notable among these functions is the enforcement of child support orders, federal support for these state enforcement efforts, and the work of the Probate and Family Court (PFC) which handles matters involving child support determination, child custody, child welfare, adoption, and abuse prevention.

The PFC's child-related work primarily involves protecting children from actual or potential harm. Another specially created court, the Juvenile Court, handles criminal cases in which juveniles are themselves defendants. Legal assistance is provided to juvenile defendants through the Youth Advocacy Department (YAD) (housed within the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS)) for those youth whose families are unable to pay for private legal counsel. Because the YAD is not funded as an independent line-item separate from the CPCS, we do not include YAD funding in the Children's Budget.

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