Florida among worst for representing children

by Adolfo Pesquera, DBR. A cross-section of judges and attorneys concerned about the lack of legal representation for children in dependency court gathered at Nova Southeastern University to discuss how the state might improve its record. Florida is one of 17 states that provides little to no representation for children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. Of the 32,000 children taken by the state last year, only 2,500 had a lawyer, said Alfreda Coward, director of One Voice Children’s Law Center in Fort Lauderdale. The American Bar Association has offered a model law but with the Legislature struggling to sustain existing progams, there is no interest in launching a new one in Florida.

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Alexia Nechayev

FYS Events & Meeting Chair
(Palm Beach)

Hello, My name is Alexia Nechayev. I am 25 years old and I am an alumna of Florida International University where I received my B.A. in Psychology. My future career goal is to be a Lawyer. I was in care for about one year from age 17 to 18. Prior to entering care, I only knew about the negative stigma regarding foster care and while in care that narrative was unfortunately my experience.

In school I felt like I was on display because my status in care was broadcast to other students and in my placement behavior was leveraged for “privileges” that should be a natural right of all children. Because I did not know my rights I did not know that what I was experiencing was wrong. Today this is exactly why I advocate, because I don’t want this to be the same for other youth who are experiencing foster care.

This is my second year on the FYS Statewide Board and I’m happy to be the Events and Meetings Chair this year because my main goal through advocacy is to reach as many people as possible. My favorite thing as a board member is to see how comfortable members become while working together. The community needs to know that youth in foster care are real people, going through some of the hardest moments of their life and youth need to know that their voice is powerful. I believe that we have to speak up and bring these issues to people’s attention so that they do not forget us. Advocacy, education and consistency is the only way.

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