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Legal aid in child welfare: Evidence from a randomized trial of Mi Abogado

Ryan Cooper, Joseph Doyle and Andres Hojman

POID Working Papers from Centre for Economic Performance, LSE

Abstract: Children spend years in foster care, and there are concerns that bureaucratic hurdles contribute to unnecessarily long stays. In a novel approach to policy making, the Chilean government randomized the introduction of a program aimed at reducing these delays in order to evaluate its effects on child wellbeing. Mi Abogado (My Lawyer) provides legal aid and social services to children living in institutions in Chile. Using administrative data linked across government registries, we find the program substantially reduced length of stay in foster care with no increase in subsequent placement, with resulting savings greater than the cost of the program. The program also led to a large reduction in criminal-justice involvement, and we find suggestive evidence of improvements in school attendance. Effects are stronger for boys across these outcomes.

Keywords: Legal aid; child welfare; foster care; Chile; social services; criminal justice; school attendance (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023-07-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-law
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