THE ATTORNEY OF CHILDREN OF A SIBLING GROUP IDENTIFIED PREVIOUSLY UNDETECTED SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITIONS THREATENING THE EYESIGHT OF THE CHILDREN AND SECURED APPROPRIATE CARE
The Attorney for the Children was appointed to all the children of a sibling group with a long history of being in care (removed and reunified and removed again). The Attorney for the Children independently reviewed the case and visited the children’s schools.
Through the review and contact with teachers, the Attorney for the Children found that the oldest child, Danny, had severe vision issues. The Department and GAL were unaware of the severity of Danny’s vision issue, and the issue was never addressed during the pendency of the prior nor current dependency cases. There were no school accommodations, nor did Danny receive any vision specialist care.
The lapse in vision care resulted in visual loss in one eye and severe vision impairment in Danny’s other eye.
As an independent and direct advocate, Danny’s Attorney met with the school administration to set up temporary support and followed up with the school administration regarding a 504 Plan. The school at that time did not have an appointed 504 specialist. The Attorney for the Children then requested a 504 Plan meeting and implementation of support services for Danny in school and follow-up vision specialist appointments. This was possible as Danny’s Attorney was not limited to only narrow dependency matters. Additionally, a vision assessment for the younger children was secured at the request of the Attorney for the Children. It was discovered that the younger children may have vision issues. At the request of the Attorney for the Children, the court has ordered vision services for all the sibling group.
The potential for the tragic – and irreversible – loss of eyesight was remedied by the diligent and skilled advocacy of the Attorney for the Children. The involvement of the Attorney for the Children was made possible by the appointment by the Court to handle this unique role in the system. The checks and balances and having an Attorney advocating in Dependency for the children in this manner caught the otherwise undetected problem yielded life-changing outcomes for the children through supports and services available under 504 Plans.
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