According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 900,000 children are determined to have been abused and neglected each year. Most of them will go through court proceedings that will determine their lives and futures. Yet while the state and the allegedly abusive or neglectful parent stands in court with an attorney by their side, the child often stands alone and silent, or is excluded entirely from these critical hearings.
This Second Edition of our groundbreaking report evaluates whether and how each state’s laws provide for the legal representation of abused and neglected children.
Since the First Edition was published in 2007, 33% of states have adopted new legislation in the right to counsel arena.
In addition, many states have engaged in valiant efforts towards legislative reform, litigation, and other advocacy to ensure that these children’s voices are heard and their rights protected in court. The report also indicates that there are many states who have earned failing or near-failing grades that have a long distance to go in improving their representation of children.
This report aims to help present a snapshot of where we are as a nation in the fight to provide counsel to these most vulnerable of our citizens at one of the most frightening and threatening moments in their lives. We hope to promote public awareness of the movement towards right to counsel in this country, and to catalyze state and national legislative reform.
Source: First Star
Read the Report here: A Children’s Right to Counsel