TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/ AP) — The Florida Senate passed a bill Friday which would provide attorneys to foster children with special needs.

The bill would require the state to provide attorneys to the children.

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The Senate passed the bill (SB 972) after unanimous support in the House last week. The bill recommends the state set aside $4.5 million to hire attorneys for roughly 1,400 foster youths. Some of the money will also fund expert witnesses.

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Advocates say foster children with physical, mental and other disabilities remain in foster care an average of five years or longer compared to their peers. Supporters said these children need a lawyer to advocate for services on their behalf and explain what’s happening in their legal cases.

Child advocacy groups, including Florida’s Children First, and Florida’s Guardian Ad Litem lobbied for the measure.

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