Expediting Permanency: Legal Representation for Foster Children in Palm Beach County

By: Andrew E. Zinn and Jack Slowriver. Published by: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. Published in 2008.

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In 2001, Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County partnered with the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County to provide representation to children under three who were entering shelter care. The goal was to expedite children’s exit to permanency.

They find that when children were represented, they had a significantly higher rate of exit to permanency, which is a function of much higher rates of adoption and long-term custody. These higher rates were not found to be an offset by significantly lower rates of reunification. The net cost of the program associated with each additional day of permanency was estimated to be as low as $32.

Highlights include:

  • “In general, children represented by FCP were found to have a significantly higher rate of exit to permanency than comparison children (i.e., children not served by FCP because of a legal conflict [see above]). Specifically, in the analyses based on DCF administrative data and court record reviews, respectively, FCP children exited to permanency at rates 1.38 and 1.59 times higher than comparison children” (p. 14).
  • “Although not affecting the timing of permanency generally, age does appear to predict the type of exit that children experience. For instance, with each additional year of age, the rate of exit to adoption or long-term custody for children in the court record review sample decreased by 22 percent” (p. 15).


Categories: Children, Family, Family, Legal Aid Attorneys, Legal Aid Practitioners, Researchers and Academics, State-Specific, Victims of Crime

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