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Lawmaker in Indiana to reintroduce bill providing attorneys to foster children



Indianapolis, Indiana – A bill to appoint a lawyer for foster children will be reintroduced by an Indiana politician.

“The system right now is not child-centered,” said Braelynn Yerington, a former foster parent who started the advocacy organization Champions for Children.

Through the foster care system, Yerington looked after four kids, none of whom had a lawyer.

She claimed that it took five years to adopt one of the kids.

“It’s just very unsettling for a child to be in limbo,” Yerington said. “So we have a case that drags on that long, it wears on them horribly.”

For this reason, Yerington is urging senators to approve a bill that would assign a lawyer to children in the foster care system.

“This can save a lot of money,” said State Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute), who is writing the bill. “This can speed up the process for kids in foster care to get to permanency.”

The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate during the previous session but failed to pass the House. After lawmakers investigated the subject over the summer and are currently working on a new two-year state budget, Ford said he feels more optimistic this year.

All foster children aged 12 and up would be covered by the law, according to Ford.

“Really the debate comes down to when is a child old enough to really know, is competent to make their own decisions,” Ford said. “And so legally in juvenile cases it’s 12.”

Foster care professionals claim that a lawyer can occasionally provide assistance that other advocates can’t.

“At a certain age, children have opinions of their own,” said Nicole Goodson of Kids’ Voice of Indiana, which provides advocacy services to foster children in Marion County. “What the best interest advocate thinks might be different than what the child thinks.”

According to Ford, the state is presently formulating estimates for the number of youngsters who might benefit from this program and its financial impact.