(Washington, D.C.) On January 25, 2008, the North Carolina Supreme Court denied a state appeal request in the John G. case, reaffirming that the state does not have the legal authority to divert the Social Security benefits of foster children to reimburse itself for the cost of their foster care when it is not in the best interest of the child. This decision signals the final chapter in a case that began to wind its way through the courts three years ago, bringing national attention to the plight of now 17-year-old John G.
John G. was represented by Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) attorney Lewis Pitts and the Guilford County Guardian ad Litem program. In June 2006, First Star and Sullivan & Worcester LLP filed a “friend of the court” brief on John G.’s behalf.
“First Star is proud of its role in helping to bring justice to John G.,” said Amy Harfeld, executive director of First Star. “It is our wish that every foster child in America would have such a committed legal team working on his or her behalf. Children who are represented by well-trained, client-directed attorneys in dependency hearings are most likely to have their rights and interests protected, and, as a result, have a much stronger chance for success in the short and long term”.
This week’s court decision reaffirms the lower court’s decision in John G.’s favor, and will now set precedent for similar cases involving foster children throughout North Carolina and quite possibly nationwide.