• July 2007
  • Vol. 8, No. 6

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Report Rates Legal Representation for Children

A new publication presents an assessment of State laws that govern legal representation for children involved in the child welfare system. The report, A Child's Right to Counsel: First Star's National Report Card on Legal Representation for Children, analyzed State statutes and court rules in all 50 States and the District of Columbia to determine how the States are meeting the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act requirement to provide trained counsel to all children involved in the child welfare system. The States were graded by specific criteria, including:

  • Is counsel required for all children?
  • Is counsel required to advocate for the expressed wishes of the child?
  • Are attorneys trained in child law and advocacy?
  • Does the child have legal status as a party, with the right to be present at all hearings?

The grades are based on the language in the statutes and court rules, not on the implementation of the laws. The report also provides State-by-State analyses of the findings and recommendations for legislative actions to improve representation for children. Recommendations for Federal legislative action and a model State law for a child's right to counsel are also presented.

A Child's Right to Counsel: First Star's National Report Card on Legal Representation for Children is published by First Star, a nonprofit organization that advocates for Federal, State, and local laws that improve the lives of abused and neglected children. The publication is available online:

www.firststar.org/documents/FIRSTSTARReportCard07.pdf (PDF - 11.9 MB)

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