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Academic Articles

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Exploring the legal representation of individuals in foster care: What say youth and alumni?

J Jay Miller et al.


Despite the overwhelming consensus that foster youth involved in dependency court proceedings are entitled to effective legal representation, few studies have examined this issue from the perspective of those most impacted: foster youth and alumni. This exploratory study examined the perceptions of foster youth/alumni (N=100) about the legal representation they received while in out of home care. All participants were either currently or previously in foster care in one southeastern state in the United States. Results indicate that participants perceived a lack of quality communication and interaction with their legal representatives. No difference in these perceptions was found by reported permanency outcome or demographic trait, though analysis did reveal a positive relationship between overall foster care experience and perception of legal representation. After a review of relevant literature, this paper reports findings, outlines salient discussion points, and discusses implications derived from this study, including identifying apposite areas for future research.

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