Children lose their parents, their siblings, their homes, their pets, neighbors, friends and teachers and access to their possessions.
Foster children need lawyers to protect their constitutional rights.
Children deserve a best practice approach, which is to have both a lawyer and a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem.
Providing Lawyers Saves Money
The cost of providing lawyers is outweighed by the cost of care savings. Independent analysis shows taxpayer savings of $39 million dollars. In addition, Florida can anticipate long-term savings of over 28 million dollars through reductions in child welfare, social services, health care, education and criminal justice costs.
National Consensus: Lawyers Lead to Better Outcomes for Kids
In 2017, the US Dept Health & Human Services, Administration of Children and Families Report issued important national findings that legal representation of children is associated with tailored and specific case plans and services, increases in visitation and parenting time, expedited permanency, and cost savings to state government due to reductions of time children and youth spend in care.
The absence of legal representation for any party at any stage of the proceedings is a significant impediment to a well-functioning child welfare system.
“Widespread agreement in the field that children require legal representation in child welfare proceedings. This view is rooted in the reality that judicial proceedings are complex and that all parties, especially children, need an attorney to protect and advance their interests in court, provide legal counsel and help children understand the process and feel empowered. The confidential attorney client privilege allows children to feel safe sharing information with attorneys that otherwise may go unvoiced.”