Legal Representation of Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases Theme of 2-Day Florida Symposium
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 2, 2012 — Leading children’s rights advocates from Florida and across the country will highlight the urgent need for abused and neglected kids to have lawyers protecting them in all court proceedings that impact their lives, during a media briefing on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 3 p.m., followed by a symposium on Friday, Feb. 10 from 8 – 4:30 p.m. at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center.
The two-day agenda seeks to increase public awareness of these issues and provide advocates and policymakers with information that can be used to advance state and federal legislative reform.
Expert panelists will discuss, among other topics, the _ “Model Act Governing the Representation of Children in Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Proceeding,” which requires the appointment of a lawyer for every child and youth in abuse or neglect proceedings in which the state has removed the child from the home. The Model Act outlines a set of standards, duties and mechanisms that states can put in place to ensure the provision of high-quality, effective lawyering for children.
According to the advocacy group Child Help, more than 3 million cases of child abuse are reported each year in the United States; in approximately one third of those cases an investigation will show that abuse occurred. With more than 425,000 children in the U.S. foster care system according to Child Welfare Information Gateway, providing lawyers to help foster children navigate the proceedings is critical.
Florida received a failing grade in a national report card on states’ provision of attorneys for abused and neglected children in dependency cases, A Child’s Right to Counsel – A National Report Card on Legal Representation for Children. The state regards the appointment of an attorney for a child in dependency proceedings as discretionary.
For reporters planning to attend please contact Brandon Hensler, Nova Southeastern University Office of Public Affairs at 954-262-5385 or by Wednesday, Feb. 8. Due to parking and security restrictions, reporters not registered in advance may be removed from campus.
For reporters who cannot attend the briefing or symposium, but would like to write about this topic please contact to arrange interviews with subject matter experts.
Legal Representation of Children in Dependency Cases Briefing and SymposiumCo-Sponsored by the ABA Section of Litigation Children’s Rights Litigation Committee & Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center
Thursday Media Briefing 3 p.m. Reporters will be able to ask questions during the briefing.
- Justice Rosemary Barkett, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and former Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, will discuss the importance of having lawyers represent abused and neglected children in proceedings;
- Frank P. Cervone, Executive Director of Child Advocates (pro bono program for abused and neglected children in Philadelphia), will give a national perspective on legal representation of children in cases of neglect and abuse.;
- Alfreda Coward, executive director and co-founder, One Voice Children’s Law Center, (Ft. Lauderdale) will talk specifically about Florida’s perspective in cases of neglect and abuse. .
- Ron Marmer, Jenner and Block, Chair, ABA Section of Litigation
Former foster youth will present three minute prepared statements about their experiences in foster care without legal representation. The youth are over 18 years old. Witnesses include one girl who recently aged out of foster care with no permanent adult connections and a boy who went into care at age 5 and was eventually adopted. They will take questions after their statements.
Friday Symposium: ABA Model Act Governing the Representation of Children in Abuse, Neglect and Dependency Proceedings – Improving Outcomes for Children 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Justice Rosemary Barkett, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and former Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court;
- Justice Barbara J. Pariente, Florida Supreme Court; (“Perspectives of a Supreme Court Justice on Children in Court: Hear Their Voices” 12:45 – 1 p.m.)
- Angela Vigil, partner/director of Pro Bono and Community Service North America, Baker & McKenzie.
Nova Southeastern University
Shepard Broad Law Center
Faculty Terrace- Second Floor
3305 College Ave.
Fort Lauderdale- Davie, FL 33314
With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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