Mission & History

Mom & BoyMission

Our mission is to keep families together.  We provide families in crisis with free legal assistance and social work services to enable children to stay with their parents safely.  CFR works to keep children out of foster care entirely or keep their time in care to a minimum.  By minimizing time in care, CFR helps to eliminate the detrimental long-term effects of foster care on thousands of children and their families.


CFR was founded in 2002 to reduce the reliance on foster care and improve outcomes for children and their families. We provide parents in crisis with free legal representation and social work services to enable children to live with their families safely. For years, child welfare experts had recommended such an approach for families whose children were at risk of foster care. The goal would be to intervene before a crisis leads to foster care, but could continue to help the family safely reunify should a removal be inevitable.

CFR was the first organization in the country to answer this call with a unique team model. At no cost to a family, we assign every parent an interdisciplinary family defense team comprised of an attorney, a social worker, and a parent advocate—our parent advocates are trained professionals who have had direct experience being prosecuted in family court, losing their children to foster care, and successfully reunifying their families. Our mission is to keep families together and to address the underlying causes of family instability.

CFR’s founders included attorneys who had experience working as children’s lawyers in child welfare and family court.  All of their clients wanted to stay with parents, even when those parents were struggling.  It was apparent that children would be able to do that and would do better if their parents received comprehensive social services coupled with high quality legal expertise–CFR was established to do just that.

We work with more than 2,100 families each year and consistently prevent more than 50% of our clients’ children from entering foster carefor those who do enter foster care, our representation significantly shortens the length of stay. By avoiding or reducing the time children spend in foster care, CFR has saved taxpayers over $37 million since 2007- and saved families untold heartache. CFR is a nationally recognized expert in family defense and child welfare, training more than 500 practitioners around the country each year.

CFR has a proven track record of reuniting families quickly and safely, but we have learned that child welfare families do not experience problems in neat silos. Indigent parents at risk of losing their children to foster care often confront several interrelated issues, rooted in poverty, such as homelessness or unstable housing, interruptions in public benefits or other financial insecurity, criminal charges, or immigration problems.  In 2016, we launched Home for Good, an initiative to created an efficient one-stop solution of coordinated and effective assistance in these collateral areas. Our expanded services ensure that families achieve lasting stability.

At CFR, we firmly believe that every family matters.