House Passes Bill Ensuring Voice for Foster Children

April 27, 2017 06:32 PM

For years, McKenna Ahrenholz and her siblings were forced to shuffle between foster homes, and, worse, their actual homes.

Despite help from social workers and a guardian ad litem, McKenna was unaware she was entitled to her own lawyer under state law, someone who could ensure her voice was heard. Now, that’s about to change.

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A bill that would ensure children in the foster system get access to a lawyer passed the Minnesota House unanimously Thursday.

“When all the lights turned green, I’m just like, I was so proud, and I’m like so happy,” McKenna said.

RELATED: State Lawmakers Move Forward on Bill Aimed at Giving Foster Children a Voice 

One of the bill’s authors, Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, said McKenna inspired him.

“She certainly restored my faith in humanity,” he said.

The bill stemmed in part from a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation featuring McKenna that found examples of juvenile victims forced to fend for themselves, despite state law saying they’re entitled to a lawyer.

McKenna fought for a year before eventually getting a lawyer, and today lives happily with her siblings and grandparents. She took action at the State Capitol because she wanted to help other foster kids who faced similar situations.

Credits

Josh Rosenthal

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