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Bills Aimed At Getting More Pro Bono Attys. To Help Special Needs Kids Clear First Panels

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Bills aimed at fixing a glitch in a Florida law have cleared their first legislative committees in the House and Senate. The two measures could get more pro bono attorneys to help kids with special needs.

Today, if a paid attorney is appointed by the court to represent an abused or neglected child, the associated court costs would be covered under Florida law. Those fees can include depositions as well as expert witnesses who testify on the child’s mental state. But, for attorneys who volunteer their time, those costs are not covered. So, Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) hopes to address that with his bill.

“So, what this bill does is says, ‘if you’re a pro bono attorney, we—the state of Florida—will pay your court-related costs,” he said.

Bean’s bill builds on a 2014 law that states: every special needs child shall have an attorney. Special needs children include foster care kids, human trafficking victims, and those with developmental disabilities.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.