Bar News - May 18, 2007
Report: Abused Kids Need Lawyers
Fifteen states, including New Hampshire, have received failing grades for the legal representation given to abused and neglected children. In its report, the Washington-based child advocacy group First Start criticizes states that do not require all children to be represented by their own attorneys. Only 17 states have representation requirements.
Since 1974, Congress has required states to appoint a representative—often known as a guardian ad litem—for any child involved in abuse or neglect proceedings. However, states have interpreted the federal law in varying ways.
Only five states earned “A” grades from the advocacy group: Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York and West Virginia. The 15 states receiving an “F” grade are: Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington.