Kathleen Creamer is the Managing Attorney of the Family Advocacy Unit at Community Legal Services, which uses a holistic family defense model to help parents involved with the child welfare system maintain custody of or reunite with their children. She joined CLS as a staff attorney in the Family Advocacy Unit in 2006.
Ms. Creamer is a member of the Statewide Children’s Roundtable, a project of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, Office of Children and Families in the Courts, and has served as an active participant in several Roundtable Workgroups including: Dependent Children of Incarcerated Parents, Legal Representation, Caseworker Retention, and Trauma. She is also a member of the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Council, a project of Pa-DHS’ Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF).
Ms. Creamer is the co-chair of United Family Advocates, a bipartisan national coalition that works at the federal policy level to create more compassionate child welfare system focused on strengthening rather than separating families. She is a member of the Steering Committee for the American Bar Association’s National Alliance for Parent Representation. She is also co-chair of the Communications Workgroup of the Family Justice Initiative.
In addition to individual representation of parents in dependency court, Ms. Creamer has focused much of her advocacy on supporting incarcerated parents and their families. From 2011-2013, she served as a Stoneleigh Foundation Fellow dedicated to Improving Reunification Outcomes for Children of Incarcerated Parents. In that capacity, she engaged in policy advocacy to improve cross-system coordination between the Philadelphia Department of Human Services and the Philadelphia Prison System. This advocacy resulted in a video-conferencing pilot between the two facilities to ensure parental participation in important case planning meetings, and an updated joint policy and protocol for engaging incarcerated parents. Ms. Creamer also led the coalition that developed and lobbied for the successful passage of the 2010 Healthy Birth for Incarcerated Women Act, which curtailed the practice of shackling incarcerated women during childbirth in Pennsylvania’s jails and prisons. She also served on the Joint State Government Commission’s Statewide Legislative Advisory Committee on Children of Incarcerated Parents. She has trained case workers and legal professionals locally and nationally on best practices for engaging incarcerated parents in the child welfare system.
Ms. Creamer has also served as Director of Legal Services at Our Place, DC, a holistic reentry program for incarcerated women, and as a law clerk to the Honorable J. Michael Ryan of the D.C. Superior Court Family Court. She earned her J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law. She graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Ms. Creamer is the recipient of the 2011 Women’s Way Unsung Heroine Award and was recognized as a 2012 Legal Intelligencer Lawyer on the Fast Track.
“Why High-Quality Interdisciplinary Legal Representation is Essential to Keeping Kids with Family,” co-author, Juvenile Law Center Blog, September 2020
“During Coronavirus, High-Quality Legal Representation Can Be a Lifesaver for Families,” co-author, The Imprint, June 24, 2020
“How to Fight Loneliness,” Children’s Bureau Exchange, May 2020
“Data Shows that Our Holistic Parent Representation Helps Kids Too,” CLS Blog Post
“Family Advocacy: How Holistic Family Defense Helps Children Thrive,” CLS Blog Post.
“Leading Strategic Family Law Advocacy,” Management Information Exchange Journal, Fall 2017.
“Representing Incarcerated Nonresident Fathers in Child Welfare Cases,” ABA Child Law Practice, Vol. 28, No. 4, June 2009
“Caught in the Middle: Children of Incarcerated Parents and the Intersection of Harsh Sentencing and Child Welfare Policies” Stoneleigh Foundation Blog Post
Featured in Videos
“Why Multi-Disciplinary Parent Representation is Beneficial to All.” Court Improvement Talks, National Center for State Courts
COVID-19 and Child Welfare Cases, American Bar Association Webinar, co-panelist
“Parenthood Lost,” Marshall Project
AOPC Office of Children & Families in the Courts, “A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the Pennsylvania Dependency Process,”
AOPC Office of Children & Families in the Courts, “Dependent Children of Incarcerated Parents: An Educational Video for Judges and Legal Professionals”
Stoneleigh Foundation “Meet the Fellows”
Women’s Way “Unsung Heroine”
Honors & Awards
Unsung Heroine Award, Women’s Way (2011)
Lawyer on the Fast Track, Legal Intelligencer (2012)