children lost and alone without an advocate
Sadly, Washington is one of few states in the country that fails to provide legal counsel for every child in the child welfare system, children who face removal from their home, separation from siblings and extended family, and ultimately, the legal termination of their parent-child relationship.
Some counties in Washington maintain a policy in which children at the age of twelve years, eight years, or children of all ages, are appointed counsel. Several counties rarely appoint counsel for children at any age. The stark contrast in access to counsel for children in foster care throughout Washington has been described as justice by geography. LCYC continues to collaborate with other nonprofit organizations and advocates to improve the quality of and access to counsel for our most vulnerable children.
Attorneys for children play an instrumental role in preserving families, supporting caregivers, protecting children's rights, and in ensuring that services are provided to children and families so the legislature's goal for a safe reunification, whenever possible, can occur in a timely manner.
Children, parents, relatives, service providers, educators, foster parents and other concerned adults are sometimes acutely aware that a child they know in the child welfare system has unmet needs or the child has an opinion about decisions being made in court. Sometimes, a child will contact LCYC seeking help in filing a motion for counsel, a request that the court appoint counsel at public expense. LCYC meets with the child to talk more about the role of an attorney and prepare a motion if the child continues to desire that action. LCYC does not ask the court to appoint LCYC specifically to the case.
how you can help
LCYC does not request nor accept payment from the child or concerned adult for legal services provided. LCYC presently relies on the generosity of individual donors in order to provide this much needed service; we are also seeking funding through grants.
If you are interested in volunteering some of your time and skills, or would like more information regarding the right to counsel as it stands in Washington please email our Executive Director, Erin L. Lovell.