HB 1251 would amend current statute to state that it is a right of a dependent child to be represented by counsel or have counsel appointed to them by the court. The bill then requires the court to appoint an attorney to a dependent child prior to the shelter care hearing. Additionally, HB 1251 would change language to include the child and child’s counsel in the court process.
Substitute Bill Compared to Original Bill:
Provisions requiring the appointment of counsel for all children in dependencies upon the effective date are stricken and replaced with the phased-in appointment of counsel for children over two years old. Language in current law pertaining to discretionary appointment of counsel and notification requirements regarding the right to request appointment of an attorney is retained rather than stricken. Language regarding appointment of counsel to children six months after entry of an order terminating parental rights is also retained rather than stricken.