Proposed bill would crack down on attorneys for foster children

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JEFFERSON CITY - A bill being heard Wednesday would set new standards for attorneys representing foster children. 

They would now have to establish a relationship with the children before the initial court appearance. 

That would mean a meeting in a private setting at least 72 hours before court to figure out the children's wants and needs.

The sponsor, Sen. Doug Libla, R - Greenville, said the 72 hour provision is important because "there's a lot of situations where the case is an emergency." 

Attorneys would also be required to consistently meet and stay in contact with the children throughout the process.

This includes attending all family support meetings.

The bill would also limit case loads and require children and families get reasonable access to the attorneys.

Libla said, over the past several years, he has seen a lot of instances of children not meeting with their attorneys. He said the goal of the bill is to give a clear understanding of the expectations of the attorneys.

"When we're talking about children, they have rights too and they need to make sure they're being represented for their best interest," Libla said. 

He said this the first time he is presenting the bill to a committee and he has received a positive reaction from his colleagues.