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Out of Sight Out of Mind

When Children in Foster Care in California Don’t Meet Their Court-Appointed Attorneys

 

California law and rules of court require attorneys for abused and neglected children to meet with those children and develop an attorney-client relationship with them. However, the survey responses from more than 1,000 caregivers and former foster youth reveal that two-thirds of children in care have never met with their attorney. This finding exposes a disturbing level of non-compliance by attorneys appointed to represent children in foster care in California. The research findings of this study identify not only areas of concern and stories of success, but also indicate pathways toward reform that would improve the safety and well-being of children in foster care in California.

Key findings from the study’s survey of caregivers and former foster youth include:

43%

reported that the appointed attorney never provided their name and contact information.

65%

reported that the appointed attorney never met with their child/youth client.

80%

of survey respondents in Butte, Fresno, Kern, Riverside, and Stanislaus counties reported that appointed attorneys never met with the children in their care.

The reforms proposed in this study would significantly increase the likelihood that all children in foster care in California will each have an attorney who knows them and can provide informed advocacy concerning their safety, well-being, and wishes.

Recommendation 1:

Create a New Statewide Office of Dependency Counsel

Recommendations 2-6:

Make Interim Improvements in Advance of Creation of the Statewide Office of Dependency Counsel

About Advokids

Founded in 1993, Advokids’ legal services and programs facilitate and support critical intervention on behalf of foster children and children at risk of neglect or abuse in California by improving access to the Juvenile Court and encouraging system wide oversight and accountability. Advokids works to make the California child welfare system function as the law intended, encouraging the persistent judicial focus on every foster child’s need for safety, security, and a permanent home.

 

 

 

 

Together We Can

  • Keep children in the California foster care system safe

  • Protect their emotional and developmental health

  • Promote permanency and adoption for children who cannot return home

  • Hold the system accountable to the best interests of the child

  • Increase public awareness about the needs of children in foster care

  • Change a lifetime

 

 

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Contact Advokids

5643 Paradise Drive, Suite 12B
Corte Madera, CA 94925

11833 Mississippi Ave., 1st floor
Los Angeles, CA 90025

415.924.0587