O’Ban bill to provide foster kids with legal representation passes Senate

fosterkidsFoster children in Washington can breathe a sigh of relief now that Senate Bill 6126 has passed the Senate 47-0. It’s the first of three major hurdles the measure must overcome before nearly 10,000 foster kids in Washington can begin to benefit from legal representation in court. The measure, sponsored by west Pierce County Sen. Steve O’Ban, must now face consideration by the House of Representatives and any potential veto by the governor.

“This was one of my top priorities coming into the 2014 legislative session, and I’m very glad to see it clear the Senate,” said O’Ban, a Republican who represents the 28th Legislative District. “This is a huge step forward for so many kids in Washington who feel forgotten by a system that delays placing them in permanent, loving homes.”

O’Ban says his bill is aimed at protecting the most vulnerable in Washington by requiring a court to appoint an attorney for a child in a dependency proceeding following termination of the parent-child relationship. A majority of states already require similar protections of a child’s legal rights, however Washington has no such law.

“My legislation gives these children, who are essentially orphans, their own voice,” O’Ban added. “With their own advocate, they should move out of the foster care system much more quickly and into adoptive homes.”

SB 6126 will be considered by the House of Representatives.