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American Bar Association

  Children's Rights Litigation



Legal Care as a Tool to Improve Children's Mental Health

By Amanda M. Walsh

Free, accessible legal assistance as part of children's mental health treatment plans.


Making the Case to End Solitary Confinement for Juveniles

By Nicole Scialabba

Juveniles in solitary confinement are more likely to develop mental health problems.


Art Works for Flint's Detained Youth

By Shelley R. Spivack

Visual arts, theater, spoken-word poetry, and dance workshops for youth detained in one of the most distressed cities in our nation.


Engaging Youth in Court: A National Analysis

By Sharon Elstein

New data show that youth want to come to court, and courts are able to make better decisions when they do.


Improving Care for Foster Children

By Shannon Hernández

Some of the biggest challenges to caregivers and corresponding suggestions for improvement.


Teaming Up for Homeless Youth

By Dieter Schmitz and Jaclyn Pampel

A resource to answer the wide range of legal questions faced by homeless youth.

A New Resource—Representing Parents in Child Welfare Cases: Advice and Guidance for Family Defenders

By Mimi Laver

The perspective and knowledge parents' lawyers need to provide their clients with excellent representation.


The Young Lawyer's Guide to Indigent Defense

By Cleveland M. Patterson III

A few pointers for young attorneys on how to represent indigent defendants where there is no local public defender's office.


Protecting Foster Youth from Unsafely Administered Psychotropic Drugs

By Sara Bartosz

Dependency court lawyers must play a meaningful role in preventing unsafely administered medications.


Compassion Fatigue: Caveat Caregiver?

By Jennifer Baum

Identify, prevent, and treat the stress that arises from child welfare professionals' constant exposure to the trauma of children.

Needed and Welcome Change: Supporting the Education of Foster Youth

By Noy Davis

Recent federal and state laws and programs promote foster youth education and achievement.


Ending Youth Homelessness: What Can Litigators Do?

By Angelica Ramos

Advocates must understand the factors impacting homeless kids, the available services, and the legal remedies.


Representing Very Young Children

By Jeanine McKelvey

Discover how lawyers in different states and systems are providing zealous advocacy to some of the most vulnerable clients in dependency cases.


The Growth of the Family Defender Movement

By Richard Cozzola

ABA Center on Children and the Law Parent Attorney Conference outlines challenges families involved in child welfare cases face and how to respond.

Urban Educational Inequalities: Why the Growing Concern?

By Darryl Irizarry Jr.

Are these students being prepared for college or the penitentiary?


International Summit Sets Ambitious Agenda to Aid Street Children

By Shannon Prown and Lourdes M. Rosado

Five key issues are addressed relating to street-connected children and youth.


Handling Child Abuse Cases Involving Violent Shaking and Abusive Head Trauma

By P. Leigh Bishop, William H. Branigan, John M. Leventhal, and Mark A. Mittler

Careful investigations can protect vulnerable children while minimizing wrongful convictions.

Litigating Shaken Baby Syndrome Allegations in the Child Welfare Context

By Melissa L. Staas

The same objectivity should be applied in evaluating abusive head trauma allegations in child protection proceedings as in the criminal justice system.

A Call for Pro Bono Assistance for Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

By Meredith Linsky

Attorneys interested in assisting children with immigration matters pro bono should review these resources.

Unaccompanied Child Immigrants: Representation Needs and Efforts

By Monique Sherman

Unaccompanied child immigrants need attorneys to assist them in immigration court.


Better Outcomes for Older Youth of Color in Foster Care

By Martha L. Raimon, Kristen Weber, and Amelia Esenstad

Professionals and advocates need to know about and attend to these three critical areas.

What Child Welfare Attorneys Need to Know about Shaken Baby Syndrome

By Katherine Judson

Health problems and accidents may present the same symptoms as abusive head trauma.

Baker & McKenzie and Google Host Children's Rights Summit

By Amanda Kottke and Trenny Stovall

The inaugural summit addressed how disrupting barriers and innovating solutions can improve outcomes for vulnerable youth.

The Young Lawyer's Guide to Indigent Defense

By Cleveland M. Patterson III

A few pointers for young attorneys on how to represent indigent defendants where there is no local public defender's office.


Creative Tech Solutions to Juvenile Expungement

By Sharlyn Grace and Chris Rudd

A team of students in Chicago tackle the problem of juvenile records being a barrier to youth employment.

Social Media: Children's Lawyer's Friend and Foe

By Jennifer Baum and Sarah N. Fox

With the number of underage Internet users on the rise, attorneys must familiarize themselves with the basics and risks of social media.

Courtroom Educational Advocacy for Children in Foster Care

By Kristin Kelly

With the proper tools, training, and judicial oversight, advocates can ensure that children in foster care receive a solid education.

Due Process Rights in Charter Schools

By Kevin C. Moyer

Recently released guidance can enable charter schools whose disciplinary practices violate students' due process rights to comply with federal law.


Truancy Lawyering in Status Offense Cases: An Access to Justice Challenge

By Dean Hill Rivkin and Brenda McGee

Lawyering reforms may challenge juvenile courts to reexamine their historical role.

Federal Criminal Restitution for Child Pornography Victims

By James R. Marsh

Congress responds to the Supreme Court's decision in Paroline v. United States.

Book Review: Changing Lives: Lawyers Fighting for Children

By Monique R. Sherman

An excellent guide for attorneys and law students looking to use their legal training to fight on behalf of today's youth.

The Hidden Benefits of Pro Bono

By Deb Mallgrave

Can you gain something from charging nothing?

An Urgent Need: Unaccompanied Children and Access to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings

By Annie Chen

Unaccompanied minors without lawful immigration status in the United States face the threat of deportation and desperately need access to competent attorneys that can help them navigate the U.S. legal system.

Unequal Access to Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: State Court Adjudication of One-Parent Cases

By Meghan Johnson and Kele Stewart

Whether facts of abuse, abandonment, or neglect by one parent alone are sufficient to make one of the required SIJS findings has been subject to divergent interpretations by state courts and has yielded disparate results.

Undocumented Parenting: Immigration Status as a Proxy for Parental Fitness

By Marcia Zug

Family and juvenile courts and child welfare agencies routinely express the belief that a parent's undocumented status means the parent is, by definition, unfit, without any additional evidence, despite immigration law's presumption that deported parents retain custody of their children.

Ready, Set, Go to Federal Court: The Hague Child Abduction Treaty, Demystified

By Jennifer Baum

As the number of internationally relocating parents grows, so too grows the number of child repatriation cases under the Hague Convention.

Kids and Gun Safety

By Sejal H. Patel

Policy considerations for a child's right to be safe.

Addressing the Underlying Issue of Poverty in Child-Neglect Cases

By Maren K. Dale

Innovative solutions are needed to prevent poverty from being mistaken as child maltreatment.

Help Us Dismantle the School-to-Prison Pipeline

By Monica Llorente

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "don't sleep through the revolution."

Book Review: Handbook on Questioning Children: A Linguistic Perspective, Third Edition

By Robert M. Murphy

An essential update to the classic guide on preparing young children to be competent witnesses in court.

The Detroit Center for Family Advocacy: A Call for Replicating an Effective Model

By Robbin C. Pott

An attorney, a social worker, and a family advocate join forces to tackle the root issues impacting families.

Championing the Education Rights of Court-Involved Youth

By Nancy Rosenbloom and Nancy Ginsburg

Change has been hard fought in New York City.

Are Charter Schools Upholding Student Rights?

By Rosa K. Hirji

The Scott B. and Lindsey decisions may encourage charter schools to push certain students out.

Educating Homeless Youth

By Farrah Champagne

Homeless youth need stable housing and continuous support services to access and succeed within the classroom.

Combating Rise of Heroin Abuse in Child-Welfare System

By Debra Rothstein, Sarah A. Smith, and Adolfo Olivas

A collaborative effort among legal advocates is crucial to battle the alarming statistics.

The Rights of Children of Same-Sex Couples: In Their Own Words

By Monique R. Sherman

An amicus curiae brief gives the children a powerful and persuasive voice in the Supreme Court.

Improving Representation for Parents in the Child-Welfare System

By Mimi Laver

Highlights and inspiration from the 2013 Third National Parent Attorneys Conference.

The Plight of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: An Australian Attorney's Perspective

By Jahan Navidi

How accessible are legal services for these vulnerable minors?

The Plight of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: A Mexican Attorney's Perspective

By Maria del Pilar Orozco

Touring a housing facility for immigrant minors provides lessons in child advocacy and social responsibility.

Fostering Justice Conference Focuses on the Right to Counsel

By Monique R. Sherman

A hundred child advocates gathered in Seattle to tackle measurable outcomes, litigation and legislative strategies, effective messaging, and more.

POINT: Embracing Full Participation of Foster Parents in the System

By Shari Shink

Foster parents must be permitted to intervene in child-protection cases.

COUNTERPOINT: For Children's Sake

By David J. Lansner

Why keeping foster parents out of child-protective cases is paramount.

Tackling Foster Care Age-Out Issues

By Kimberly A. McFarlane

Practical ideas and options to better assist youth transitioning out of foster care and into adulthood.

Social Services and Constitutional Rights, a Balancing Act

By Benjamin R. Picker and Jonathan C. Dunsmoor

Social-service workers must weigh their duty to protect children against their legal obligation not to commit civil-rights violations.

Say What? Translating Courtroom Colloquies for Youth

By Rosa Peralta

The legalese that gets flung around in youth courts often goes right over kids' heads.

Improving Police-Youth Interactions

By Cristina Dacchille and Lisa Thurau

Strategies for Youth, Inc., takes a scientific approach as it trains police officers to better understand teens.

How Do We Make Schools Safer?

By Natalie Chap and Liz Sullivan

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, a holistic Model Code centered on human rights offers an answer.

Beyond the Courtroom: Part II

By Michael R. Smalz, Robert M. Murphy, and Jane L. Habegger

Connecting with legislators is key for lawyers fighting for children's rights.

Beyond the Courtroom: Part I

By Michael R. Smalz, Robert M. Murphy, and Jane L. Habegger

Most attorneys litigate, not legislate. Why legislative advocacy should not be overlooked.

Defending Fathers' Rights

By Howard Davidson

IA look at a comprehensive partnership to better represent non-resident fathers involved in the child-welfare system.

Measuring a Lawyer's Impact

By Catherine Krebs

How can one effectively prove that a lawyer made a difference in a child's life?

Federal Spotlight on the School-to-Prison Pipeline

By Allison R. Brown

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy and a recent Senate hearing about ending the school-to-prison pipeline, the federal government seems poised to turn its attention to disparate-impact claims.

Zero Tolerance for Online Bullying Can Hamper Free Speech

By Frank D. LoMonte

Panicky legislative responses to cyberbullying can damage as many young lives as they benefit.

Representing Court-Involved Youth in Education Cases

By Rachel Shapiro and Margie Wakelin

There are state and federal laws that entitle youth with sustained difficulties in school to greater assistance and protection, but these laws are often not followed.

FASD: Identification and Advocacy

By Teresa J. Grogan

Failure to identify and address FASDs is a failure to provide the afflicted children with the chance to receive the support systems they need to thrive.

Girls in the Juvenile Justice System: The Case for Girls' Courts

By Sarah Klein

We need a new approach to juvenile justice that accounts for females' different paths to violence.

Investigative Strategies in Confession Cases

By Laura H. Nirider

The mere fact that your client has confessed should not render his or her conviction a fait accompli.

Protecting Mothers Against Gender-Plus Bias: Part 3

By Diane L. Redleaf and Melissa L. Staas

Mothers in poverty and teen mothers face gender-plus bias, but a cross-cutting strategy can narrow the grounds for intervention against those who haven't harmed their kids.

Adoption Subsidies Are Unchecked for Fraud

By David J. Lansner and Carolyn A. Kubitschek

Hundreds of millions of dollars may have been fraudulently collected by adoptive parents, and states are prohibited from investigating the fraud.

Recognizing and Addressing LGBTQ Issues

By Cindy C. Albracht-Crogan

A recent conference featured a panel of attorneys, analysts, advocates, and practitioners who shared how to deal with the struggles of LGBTQ youth.

Protecting Mothers Against Gender-Plus Bias: Part 2

By Diane L. Redleaf, Melissa L. Staas, and Jonathon N. Fazzola

The three largest gender-plus categories are domestic violence victims, mothers with a mental illness, and nonoffending mothers held liable for the actions of a partner.

Meeting the Needs of Children with an Incarcerated Parent

By Lynne Reckman, Katie Gates, Meredith Schnug, and Debra Rothstein

The best child advocacy occurs when there is a team of professionals, including a mental-health practitioner, to collaborate regarding the overall needs of children.

Five Mistakes for New Child-Welfare Lawyers to Avoid

By Jennifer Baum

By avoiding these mistakes, new attorneys can set themselves up for a creative, proactive, and skilled child-welfare-litigation practice.

An Overview of Title IX Liability for Anti-Gay Bullying

By J. Dalton Courson and Abigayle C. Farris

Schools must provide students with the type of protection Title IX requires in instances of peer-on-peer sexual harassment of LGBT students.

An Introduction to Child Trafficking in the United States

By Katherine Kaufka Walts

The latest government estimates state that approximately 14,500–17,500 men, women, and children are trafficked into the United States each year.

Special Education Advocacy at School Meetings: Part 2

By Erin Han, Janeen Schlotzer, and Richard Cozzola

Individual education program meetings can quickly get derailed with many layers of issues, so it is important to have a system to make sure that all of your issues get addressed.

Lessons Learned Through Child Welfare Litigation

By Alet A. Brown

Transitioning into the field of child advocacy is not child's play—it requires a new way of thinking and the realization that an advocate's job is to be the voice of the child.

A Voice for the Young Child with an Incarcerated Parent

By Lynne Reckman and Debra Rothstein

When a parent is incarcerated, it is important that the systems surrounding the family recognize the significance of the child-parent relationship.

Parent Representation Project Promotes Permanence

By Angelica Ramos

The Parent Representation Project was created to enhance the quality of defense representation in dependency and termination hearings in the state of Washington.

The Crisis of Child Identity Theft

By Cathy Krebs and Amy Harfeld

Children are targeted for identity theft 51 times more frequently than adults.

Protecting Mothers Against Gender-Plus Bias: Part 1

By Diane L. Redleaf

Some mothers risk losing custody of their children because they fall into a gender-specific category, such as being a victim of domestic violence or having depression.

The Changing Landscape of Second-Parent Adoptions

By Leslie M. Fenton and Ann Fenton

Despite recent legal victories for same-sex couples, many are stymied when they try to seek legal protection for their relationships with their children.

Special Education Advocacy at School Meetings: Part 1

By Erin Han, Janeen Schlotzer, and Richard Cozzola

When working on behalf of a student in need of special education services, most initial advocacy can take place in meetings at the student's public school.

Part 2: LGBTQ Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

By Amanda Valentino

Advocates for young LGBTQ clients need to take a multidimensional approach to recognize their particular concerns.

The National Conference on Children and the Law

By David Lansner

The 14th ABA National Conference on Children and the Law provided advice and training for attorneys representing children.

Conference Provides Resources for Parents' Attorneys

By Darice M. Good and Diana Rugh Johnson

The National Parents' Attorneys Conference is a valuable opportunity for parents' attorneys to gather, share ideas, compare notes, and share war stories.

A New Look at Section 504 and the ADA in Special Education Cases

By Mark C. Weber

While school districts are cutting back on who is protected under IDEA, a recent amendment to section 504 and the ADA has greatly expanded coverage.

The OCR as a Tool in Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline

By Rosa K. Hirji and Benétta M. Standly

How much can we rely on the OCR to remedy the school-to-prison pipeline in communities of color, and does this represent a step forward?

Book Review: Trial Advocacy for the Child Welfare Lawyer

By Ann M. Haralambie

Marvin Ventrell's book is a logical extension of the annual RMCATI training programs and fills a void on the bookshelves of child welfare lawyers.

Part 1: LGBTQ Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

By Amanda Valentino

Although some safeguards are in place to ensure the safety of LGBTQ youth in detention facilities, more can be done to promote awareness and keep all LGBTQ youth safe.

School Expulsion: A Life Sentence?

By Sarah Biehl

The parallels between children who have been sentenced to prison and children who lose the right to complete their educations are stark.

Preparing Foster Youth for Adulthood

By Rachel Kleinberg and Patsy Moore

Youth still in long-term foster care at the age of majority face significant challenges as they transition into adulthood.

Addressing the Health Needs of Court-Involved Youth

By Eva J. Klain

The health and well-being of court-involved children and youth is dependent on well-informed and knowledgeable legal advocates.

Constance McMillen: Extending the Rights of LGBT Students

By Alysson Mills

When Constance McMillen, a senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, was told she could not take her girlfriend to the prom, she took a stand.

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Seizure, Questioning of Children in Schools

By Diane L. Redleaf

Camreta/Alford v. Greene has the potential to significantly impact children's and parent's interests in privacy, safety, and family life.

The CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010: What Advocates Should Know

By Howard Davidson

CAPTA is an important source of funding for child welfare agencies and a source of funding for some innovative dependency court programs.

Counting All Children: ABA Conference Focuses on Truancy

By Laura Faer and Catherine Krebs

It costs three times more to imprison someone than to educate them, proving Frederick Douglass' quote that "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."

Enforcing a Right to Counsel for Children: The Time is Now

By Catherine Krebs

Legal representation provides the child with a voice. It can be the difference between a future the child embraces and one they reject. For the children, the time is now.

DLA Piper’s Signature Projects: Partnerships Making a Difference

By Matthew J. Iverson

Tips for New Juvenile Defenders

By Robin Walker Sterling

Dignity in Schools Campaign National Conference–"A Collective Voice for Dignity in Schools"

By Ruth Cusick

Effective Advocacy in School Discipline Proceedings

By Julie Waterstone

How to Challenge the Taking of a Foster Child’s Social Security Benefits

By Lewis Pitts

A Career in Children’s Law


Juvenile Law 101

By Thomas Wade Young

Starting a Children’s Law Program


Starting a Pro Bono Program