CIVIC CENTER -- State Sen. Adam Schiff (D--Burbank) will be among
several officials examining ways of bolstering the legal rights of
children during a public hearing Wednesday in the Burbank City Council
The hearing, conducted by the Select Committee on Juvenile Justice and
co-sponsored by the Judicial Council’s Center for Children and the Court,
is an attempt to give all abused and neglected children the automatic
right to an attorney in state dependency courts, organizers said.
“The outcome of the hearing will be potential legislation for the
coming year,” Schiff said. “There’s a vital importance in making sure we
do everything to protect these children.”
While all parents in California have a right to counsel during neglect
and child abuse proceedings, Schiff said a child’s right differs by
“California never had a consistent policy in terms of representing
children,” Schiff said. “The parents are always represented, but the
children are not.”
In addition to the unequal representation, Schiff said there is a
fiscal impact as well. By not offering representation across the board,
California is in danger of losing $3.5 million in federal funding from
the Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Act, he said.
Besides Schiff, Michael Nash, presiding judge of the Los Angeles
Children’s Court, will also head the hearing. Panelists from the National
Association of Counsel for Children and from the National Court Appointed
Special Advocate Program will offer their views. The event is free and
open to the public.
“I don’t think the state is doing all it can to look out for it’s
children,” Schiff said. “And if we don’t do anything about the problem,
they will continue to go unrepresented.” IF YOU GO:
WHAT: A hearing on the right of abused or neglected children to legal
representation in California dependency court.
WHY: To help children to the same legal representation as their
parents and county agencies in child abuse and neglect cases.
WHERE: Burbank City Council Chambers, 275 E. Olive Ave.
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday