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Advocates, Attorneys, Guardians: States Save When Providing Lawyers to Foster Kids

March 12th, 2012   No Comments   Advocacy

Nationwide, from Florida to California, some 400,000 foster kids struggle to find their place in the system, whether it’s the dependency court or life in a group home. This Associated Press story discusses the need for legal help for foster kids. Some states, like Massachusetts, Connecticut, and more than a dozen other states, appointed attorneys are required for foster children. Yet, the story notes that shrinking budgets make compliance sporadic.

On a high note, a Florida pilot program has advocates pushing other states to try. Here, advocates say children with attorneys move through the system faster.

“A pilot program in Palm Beach County showed children with effective counsel in dependency cases found permanent homes at about twice the rate of unrepresented children,” the AP wrote. “The program, which has 14 attorneys with an average caseload of 35 kids, works with about 800 foster children a year, costing taxpayers about $1.7 million. Advocates say that’s less than what the state would pay for extended stays in foster care. Florida spends between $150 to $200 a day to care for each child.”

The AP continued, “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded a $5 million grant to the University of Michigan to study how to better connect foster children with legal help. The American Bar Association recently wrote legislation and is urging lawmakers in several states, including Florida, to require attorneys for all foster children.”

Read the entire story here.

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