Kids, Not Cases

Publication: State Legislatures

Author: Susan Robison

12/03/2007 - Read the full article Payroll Deductions are Vital for Saving on The Dallas Morning News Web site.I never went to court. I have been in and out of foster care since I was a baby, and I really resent that I never got the chance to speak on my behalf or even be present when my future was being discussed.” This South Dakota foster youth’s experience is all too common. In addition to being excluded from the courts that make life-altering decisions, many children in foster care do not receive the legal representation that the rest of us expect as a fundamental, democratic right.

In Colorado, during 12 years in foster care, 19-year-old Andrew has been in 42 placements. And not once was he present for the numerous court hearings about his case. Despite state statutes requiring that all children with dependency cases have an appointed advocate, an “attorney guardian ad litem” who acts in the child’s best interest, Andrew has met with his only a couple of times, and they have never had what he considers a meaningful, private conversation.

Access to court and legal representation for children who have been abused or neglected can vary from case to case and even from proceeding to proceeding. Both the decision-making process and the results for children can stray far from legislative intent, often without legislators even knowing it. The courts, the ultimate decision makers in these cases, are far removed from legislative scrutiny.

Read the full article Kids, Not Cases on The Dallas Morning News Web site.

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