New Arizona law gives attorney to every child in foster care

Updated: Apr. 15, 2021 at 7:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A victory for foster children across Arizona. Every child in foster care will be appointed an attorney, after Governor Ducey signed a bill Wednesday. Research shows children leave foster care nearly four times faster when they have an attorney.

“The attorney can file right away and get that relative search going. Maybe you have an aunt or grandma the child can go with. It just means better outcomes for child abuse victims,” said Darcy Olsen, the CEO and founder of Gen Justice.

Olsen said Pima County already required children have an attorney but this law will help every foster child in the state, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Families who normally would take in kids, they were losing their jobs, their livelihoods and many of them couldn’t take in anymore children,” Olsen said.

COVID-19 strained the foster care system and local nonprofits have noticed the difference.

“There are a lot of kids coming into the system and still not a lot of resources open for business. We had to switch gears,” said Michelle Wright, the executive director of Spreading Threads.

Wright has adopted four foster children. She also runs an organization, Spreading Threads, that gives clothing to foster and adoptive families in southern Arizona.

“This is for the kids. Getting them legal representation, getting them proper clothing or hair products or mentors. Whatever we can do to remove obstacles,” Wright said.

She expanded Spreading Threads, doubling its space, to keep up with the need. The non-profit has helped thousands of children over the years and has no plans of stopping.

“When kids come in here, and they have that look on their face. If I can tell, even with a mask, they have a smile on their face for just five minutes. Then I’ve done my job,” Wright said.

By donating to Gen Justice or Spreading Threads, you can receive a dollar-for-dollar credit off of your Arizona taxes. This means you get a credit on your state taxes for the full amount of your donation.

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