(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
In July, a new state law took effect that will guarantee legal representation for children facing dependency hearings, in which a judge considers whether they should remain with their family or go to foster care. For more than a decade, Washington lagged behind much of the rest of the country in expanding children’s access to attorneys during foster care cases, so when the State Legislature passed the law in April, most children’s rights advocates across Washington lauded the change as a step in the right direction.
Access to an attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of foster care cases. A study conducted between 2017 and 2019 by Washington’s Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA), which provides financial support to low-income Washington residents in civil cases, found that children represented by attorneys in dependency cases are much more likely to reunite with their families. The study found that having a lawyer made an especially notable difference for older children and Kids of Color, who are also the least likely to be adopted if left in foster care.
(This article originally appeared on Amara’s website and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
I’ve had the privilege of working within child welfare for almost 12 years now. My professional journey started in our state agency (now called the Department of Children, Youth and Families — DCYF) supporting children who were “legally free,” meaning children who the state has decided cannot safely return home and are now seeking to find forever families, typically through adoption or guardianship.
As a social work practicum student, I was able to immerse myself in the work of all aspects of child welfare including doing “ride arounds” with Child Protective Services (CPS) investigators and sitting in on intense family decision meetings. Throughout my career, I have always looked for the best ways to support kids and families in foster care, including looking at how best to support Black families caring for kids and youth in our immediate and extended families.
There will always be one family from that time who has stuck with me even after all these years.
The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.
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Morning Update Show — Monday, October 19
Today on the Morning Update Show:
**Live Julie C** — What is the Solidarity Budget?; Ballot Box Safety — King County Elections; WA State foster children being shipped out of state; More discrepancies in the KCSO shooting of Tommy Le; CHOP lawsuit against the City of Seattle; and City Council members being blamed for graffiti at Mayor Durkan’s home.
Amplifying the Authentic Narratives of South Seattle