Senate Judiciary - SB 146 by Senator Aaron Bean - Appointment of Attorneys for Dependent Children with Special Needs
Wednesday: 1:30 – 3:30 in House Office Building, Room 404:
House Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee - HB 57 by Representative Frank White – Appointment of Attorneys for Dependent Children with Special Needs.
ABOUT THE BILL:
• There are currently over 32,831 children in Florida’s child welfare system. • In addition to appointment of a guardian ad litem, Florida Statutes require the appointment of an attorney for certain children with special needs, for example if they are victims of human trafficking. (See § 39.01305, Fla. Stat.) • These attorneys generally come from the Special Needs Registry and are paid $1,000 a year and reimbursed for case-related due process costs. However, before the court appoints a Registry Attorney, the court must request a recommendation from the GAL Program for an attorney who is willing to represent a child pro bono. • Currently, the statute allows for reimbursement of case-related due process costs only of Special Needs Registry attorneys, but not of attorneys who are willing to serve for free, creating a disincentive to serving pro bono.
WHAT THE BILL DOES:
• The bill allows for case-related due process costs to be reimbursed for both attorneys from the Registry and for those serving pro bono.
WHY THE BILL IS IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF CHILDREN:
• Some attorneys may be willing to give their time and serve pro bono, but cannot bear the expense of due process costs – which are unknown at the time of appointment. The bill removes this barrier to pro bono service. • The bill should encourage more attorneys to take cases pro bono, and having more attorneys available to serve children with special needs is in their best interests. • For every attorney who serves pro bono, the state will save $1,000 per year.
Thanks to Clinical Instructor & Practitioner-in-residence Robert Latham for bringing this issue up to me at the GAL Disability Conference this year. Also, I am really appreciative of The Florida Bar Foundation finding ways to link children with needs to pro bono attorneys who want to make a difference in the lives of children. Thanks to Bar Foundation Bruce Blackwell’s on his teams leadership. GAL appreciates the partnership.Please review the Pro Bono Matters link to learn more about this: thefloridabarfoundation.org/florida-pro-bono-matters/... See MoreSee Less