Pending Legislation in Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri Would Advance Counsel for Kids
Illinois Senate Bill 1478 would guarantee a client-directed attorney for youth in any abuse or neglect proceeding and establish the Due Process for Youth Oversight Commission to oversee implementation. NACC submitted written testimony to the Senate Judiciary committee’s public hearing and NACC’s National Law School Student Organizer Leyda Garcia-Greenawalt testified in support of children’s right to counsel. The bill passed unanimously from committee on March 21.
Kansas House Bill 2381 would require the court to appoint a client-directed attorney to represent a child who is the subject of child in need of care proceedings and give the court the option to also appoint a guardian ad litem. NACC submitted written comments to the House Judiciary Committee for the public hearing held February 16. On March 21, the House Committee on Child Welfare and Foster Care held an informational session on children’s legal representation.
Missouri House Bill 1170 would guarantee client-directed legal counsel for children at all stages of child abuse and neglect or termination of parental rights proceedings and make the appointment of a guardian ad litem discretionary. NACC submitted written testimony for the House Judiciary committee’s public hearing held on March 22.
NACC Opposes Florida House Bill 875 and Senate Bill 1384 that would take away the narrow guarantee of counsel for children with special needs in state custody and move the state model further from best practice. The Children, Families, and Seniors subcommittee passed House Bill 875 unanimously on March 15. Foster Fairness member Cheryl Sattler testified in opposition (@9:23). The House Civil Justice subcommittee will consider the bill next. NACC submitted written opposition.
NACC Supports Federal and State Legislation for Youth
NACC signed on to federal legislation to increase funding for housing vouchers for young people transitioning out of foster care, to increase funding for Full-Service Community Schools, and to help youth experiencing the foster care system get driver’s licenses. NACC also signed on to improve housing stability for youth in extended foster care in California and end child prosecution in Colorado.