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May 2024 Policy Updates

Wednesday May 8, 2024

Counsel for Kids State Legislative Updates

New Hampshire’s Children and Family Law Committee considered Senate Bill 463 on April 23. If passed, it would require the appointment of legal counsel for children placed in institutions or group homes and permit judicial appointment of attorneys for any child in child protection court proceedings. NACC submitted supportive written testimony. NACC State Coordinator Lisa Wolford also testified in support of the bill (hearing begins at 30-minute mark, see testimony at 1:26:50). The bill was voted out of committee with an “ought to pass” recommendation. It will move to the House floor.

Gov. DeSantis signed into law Florida Senate Bill 1224 “Protection of Children and Victims of Crime” on April 10. SB 1224 was amended to preserve the right to legal counsel for groups of children in the foster care system. We applaud the astute decision-making of lawmakers who once again recognized that children involved in these proceedings need lawyers of their own to ensure their voices are heard, their rights are protected, and they experience outcomes that keep them safely with their families and on a path toward success. While maintaining the status quo is a victory, it is time for Florida to take the next critical step of expanding access to legal counsel for all children in foster care proceedings.

Counsel for Kids Social Media Storm May 15

May 1 was Law Day and the start of National Foster Care Month. May 15 is the anniversary of the case In Re Gault – which guaranteed lawyers for youth experiencing the criminal legal system. At the intersection of access to justice and children lies the unfortunate reality that 13 states do not guarantee legal representation for young people experiencing the child protection system. On May 15, share on social media why #counsel4kids are important! See the social media kit for sample posts and graphics.

NACC Advocates for Support for Children and Families

NACC endorsed a foster care tax credit for short-term foster families, and also signed a letter asking Congressional leaders to support the health and well-being of children and families.

Amicus Updates

The Third District of the Texas Court of Appeals recently ruled on two cases in which NACC participated as amicus. The panel rejected appellants’ jurisdictional challenges and found that sufficient evidence was presented to restrain Texas’ attempt to investigate families facilitating gender-affirming health care for their transgender children. Read the opinions in Voe and PFLAG v Muth and Doe v Abbott.

NACC filed an amicus brief in Michigan regarding the federal law, research and best practices around legal guardianship.

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