Save Children, Save Money: Support Improved Compensation for Attorneys for Low-Income Parents
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
SUPPORT Budget Amendment 44 #2s (Edwards): High-quality family legal representation has been proven to improve outcomes for children in foster care – without compromising safety. Virginia pays court-appointed counsel for parents at the lowest rate of any state: there hasn’t been a raise in 23 years. Judges say they can’t even find lawyers to take these cases; attorneys can’t afford to put more than a minimum amount of time into a case.
This budget amendment would increase court-appointed counsel compensation from $120 to $445. Federal funds are available to reimburse 25% of the cost, and it likely would be further offset by reduced foster care costs: better-prepared lawyers means fewer continuances and court delays.
Virginia spends $5,000-20,000 per month per child in foster care. If every one of the 5,000 children in Virginia’s foster care system spent even one month less in foster care, the Commonwealth could save at a minimum $25 million per year—more than paying for this increase.
When parents get good legal representation, children win!
If you are represented by a member of Senate Finance, ask them to fund this amendment!
Janet D. Howell, Co-Chair
George L. Barker, Co-Chair