Report: whether Washington kids get counsel depends on where they live

08/26/2016, Report, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

A report by the Children and Youth Clinic at the University of Washington School of Law explores the problem of representation of children (or lack thereof) in Washington State child welfare cases. Current Washington State law permits but does not require courts to appoint counsel for children, although it requires children over twelve to be notified of their right to request counsel.  The report, entitled Defending Our Children: A Child’s Access to Justice in Washington State, found some shocking things, such as a) 23 percent of children lack an advocate of any kind (despite federal law requiring either a guardian ad litem or an attorney); b) some counties automatically appoint counsel for children whereas other counties almost never do; c) children lacking an attorney were far less likely to have their wishes made known to the court; and d) despite the ability to request counsel, courts almost never granted such requests.  The report was covered by The Daily World and is summarized on the UW website.