Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Kids without Counsel

Who speaks for the kids in dependency court?, Seattle Times, April 25, 2007:

When Washington children are removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect, their parents are represented by a lawyer in dependency court. The state has a lawyer at the table, too.

The kids, however, don't have that automatic right to counsel. In fact, at least one-third of Washington children who are removed from their homes don't have anyone at all to speak for them in court, according to a statewide work group studying the issue.
The work group is chaired by Prof. Lisa Kelly, who is the director of the Children and Youth Advocacy Clinic, which represents children and teens in such cases. Kelly also teaches family law and is the coauthor of a new casebook on adoption law.

Update (April 26): A colleague from Maryland wrote to me about her state's efforts in this area. The Maryland Judiciary has a Foster Care Court Improvement Project, including a subcommittee on Representation, Practice and Procedure. In 2001, the FCCIP issued Guidelines of Advocacy for Attorneys Representing Children in CINA and Related TPR and Adoption Proceedings. Two months ago FCCIP issued a best practices manual for dependency and adoption cases.

Thanks: Pamela Gregory

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