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American Bar Association

  Children's Rights Litigation




740 15th St., NW, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20005-1009
Telephone:       (202) 662-1720
Fax:                 (202) 662-1755
Website:          http://www.americanbar.org/groups/child_law.html


Founded by the ABA Young Lawyers Division in 1978, the ABA Center on Children and the Law’s mission is to improve the quality of life for children through advancements in law, justice and public policy. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is the only federally-supported Resource Center specializing in a wide range of legal matters related to the protection of children. No direct representation of clients is undertaken by the Center. The Center also houses the National Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues. This Resource Center provides free or low-cost training, technical assistance and consultation to agencies and courts on all legal and judicial aspects of the child welfare system.


The staff of 12 attorneys and one paralegal provides technical assistance and consultation to attorneys, judges, and child protection professionals, produces a wide range of publications and scholarly policy studies, has an extensive training program and holds a bi-annual National Conference on Children and the Law. CLE credit is available for most of the Center’s trainings. Topics addressed by the Center include: abuse and neglect, adoption, child support, custody disputes, delinquency, family preservation, guardian ad litem, HIV-positive children, kinship care and foster care, law guardian, parental child abduction, and permanency planning.


The Center works with state child welfare agencies to train attorneys and social workers, and has conducted extensive child welfare policy studies to assist states updating their child welfare laws and procedures. After performing a policy study, the Center can recommend and help implement changes—including drafting legislation, court rules, and policy standards, and preparing attorney and caseworker training based on new laws, policies and practices.


The Center publishes two in-house publications: (1) the Quarterly Report describing the Center’s ABA and grant/contract-funded work; and (2) the ABA Juvenile and Child Welfare Law Reporter, a 16-page monthly legal information service containing case law abstracts on abuse and neglect, civil rights, juvenile delinquency, foster care, adoption, drug and alcohol abuse, termination of parental rights, and liability under federal and state laws for agencies and individuals working with children. Also included is Supreme Court news, legislative developments, analysis of cutting-edge legal issues, highlights of new reports and books, and summaries of state legal ethics decisions. Subscriptions and back issues are available. The Center also makes available a wide variety of books concerning children’s law.


1101 15th St., NW, Ste. 1212
Washington, DC 20005
Telephone:       (202) 467-5730
Fax:                 (202) 223-0409
Email:              leec@bazelon.org
Website:          www.bazelon.org


The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law handles impact litigation only, and provides information and support for attorneys nationwide. The Bazelon Center is a separate non-profit that has been operating since 1972. Children’s law cases are 30–50 percent of the total case load and includes cases in the following areas: Civil Rights, Homeless Youth, Medicaid, Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment, Mental Health, Special Education, Status Offenders and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Children. The Bazelon Center is staffed by nine attorneys, one paralegal, and nine non-legal professionals, including a social worker. Psychologists are used as paid consultants when appropriate. Clients are referred from the Protection and Advocacy System, other attorneys and community advocates. Volunteer lawyers and law students are recruited through law schools. No specific general training program is offered, but information and support for attorneys is available in a wide range of areas.


The Bazelon Center publishes an “Advocate’s Guide to SSI For Children,” which explains the laws, regulations, policies and procedures governing a child's eligibility for SSI benefits. The guide is an essential resource for attorneys representing children who are appealing SSI denials.


The Bazelon Center brings impact cases for children with mental disabilities or who are at risk of disability. The Center teamed with the Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and the Southern Poverty Law Center and won a consent decree creating a new child protection and foster care system in Alabama. The Bazelon Center also represented 8,000 children when Florida failed to develop sufficient community-based therapeutic programs for children in state custody. In New Mexico, the Bazelon Center helped local counsel prepare a lawsuit on behalf of children with emotional and behavioral disorders who are at risk of placement in the state’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems. A class action focusing on class member’s rights under federal special education law challenged the systemic deficiencies in the service-delivery systems of three Vermont state agencies.


In addition to litigation, the Bazelon Center monitors implementation of the Child Mental Health Services Program, advocates for development of appropriate federal regulations and guidelines for state child welfare systems under the Family Preservation Act and works with the Mental Health and Special Education Coalition. Recently, it started a new entity, LINKS, Linking Networks For Kids, a national consortium which promotes the coordination of resources for developmentally vulnerable children. The LINKS newsletter is available from the Bazelon Center.


1701 K St., NW, Ste. 600
Washington, DC 20006
Telephone:       (202) 637-0377
Fax:                 (202) 379-1600
Email:              info@cclp.org
Website:          www.cclp.org


The Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCLP), begun in 2006, is a public interest law and policy organization focused on reform of juvenile justice and other systems that affect troubled and at-risk children, and protection of the rights of children in such systems, through a range of activities including research, writing, public education, media advocacy, training, technical assistance, administrative and legislative advocacy, and litigation. CCLP capitalizes on its location in Washington, DC, by working in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as in other states and on national efforts such as the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change and the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.



1875 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Telephone:       (202) 986-3000
Fax:                 (202) 986-6648
Email:              cle@cleweb.org


515 Washington St., 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02111-1759
Telephone:       (617) 451-0855
Fax:                 (617) 451-0857
Email:              clebos@cleweb.org
Website:          www.cleweb.org
The Center for Law and Education (CLE) strives to make the right of all students to quality education a reality throughout the nation and to help enable communities to address their own public education problems effectively. For the past 25 years, CLE has provided legal service nationwide to parents, students, educators, lawyers, and community organizations. The Center works to improve laws affecting the education of low-income children and to hold local and state educational agencies accountable for the implementation of those laws.


CLE directs three national projects, namely, School Reform/Title I; High School Restructuring/Vocational Education; Educational Rights of Students with Disabilities, and Community Action for Public Schools (CAPS). CLE can help with these topics in a number of ways, including: (1) training of parents, students and community members; (2) assistance to attorneys and advocates representing students and parents; (3) policy analysis and policy drafting; (4) staff development; (5) assistance in dealing with state and federal policy-makers; (6) access to, and assistance in using, out extensive publications on program implementation in these areas (such as our implementation and advocacy guides on Title I, the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, and other programs); (7) access to other resources around the country, including schools, exemplary programs, researchers, and advocates. Some of these services are available to CAPS members, while others may be available through CLE projects, or in some cases on a fee-for-service basis.


Services available from the Center include advice and collaboration on cases, publications, training, federal program advocacy, and litigation. It also handles special, national implementation projects in the areas of Title I/State and Local Education Reform and vocational education/school to work. Other priority areas of the Center are education rights of students with disabilities, early intervention services and early childhood education issues affecting the limited-English proficient student, and educational rights of welfare recipients.



616 H St., NW, Ste. 300
Washington, DC 20001
Telephone:       (202) 467-4900
Fax:                 (202) 467-4949
Website:          www.childrenslawcenter.org


100% Children’s Law
Does Use Volunteer Attorneys


The Children’s Law Center began in 1996 and provides free legal services to at-risk children, their families, and foster and kinship caregivers in the District of Columbia. The Center’s mission is to improve the lives of low- and middle-income at-risk children and their families by providing direct legal representation and advocacy and by offering training and technical assistance to the public and to other professionals. Clients are referred from Juvenile Courts, social service agencies, schools, health care professionals and other attorneys.


Volunteer attorneys and law students are recruited through local law firms and schools. Pro bono attorneys are trained and then teamed with staff attorneys or experienced volunteer attorneys. Volunteers are also utilized in corporate and employment matters for the Center. Besides individual representation, the Center has initiated class action suits in the areas of foster home licensing and adoption subsidies. Children’s Law Center also coordinates the Health Access Project by maintaining a full-time lawyer at Children’s National Medical Center to work with low income patients of the hospital on issues related to health.


4801 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20016
Telephone:       (202) 274-4223
Fax:                 (202) 274-0659
Website:          www.wcl.american.edu/clinical/criminal.cfm


33% Children’s Law
Does Not Use Volunteer Attorneys


The Criminal Justice Clinic has been in existence for over twenty-five years, making it Washington College of Law’s oldest clinic. The Clinic began handling delinquency cases in 1988. Each year 12–16 law students participate in the defense portion of the Clinic as part of the law school’s curriculum and receive academic credit. The Clinic is staffed with two full-time attorneys and one part-time attorney. Law students are teamed with faculty attorneys to assist clients referred from the Office of Public Defender of Montgomery County, Maryland. Impact litigation is not handled at this time.



1875 Connecticut Ave., NW, Ste. 710
Washington, DC 20009
Telephone:       (202)462-4688
Fax:                 (815) 301-5516
Email:              info@jfcadvocacy.org
Website:          www.jfcadvocacy.org


100% Children’s Law
Does Use Volunteer Lawyers


Justice for Children (JFC) was started in 1987 by private attorneys “to educate and focus society on the systematic failure to protect victims of child abuse; to seek proper intervention and treatment for abused children; and to develop and implement solutions that enhance the quality of life for children who are victims of child abuse” (from the mission). JFC utilizes 150 volunteer lawyers and law students to handle approximately 100 children’s law cases a year. Volunteer lawyers intervene on behalf of abused children when child protection agencies and courts do not take action; advocate on behalf of children who are victims of abuse but who are forced to spend time with the offender; write amicus briefs; perform legal research and writing; make presentations within their community; train other lawyers and serve on the board of directors. JFC only advocates in cases of documented abuse, and it employs five former investigators. Trainings for volunteers are offered four times a year for CLE credit; interested lawyers should contact JFC via e-mail or telephone.


JFC has some manuals available for distribution including the JFC Training Manual and Defending Against P.A.S. (Parental Alienation Syndrome) Allegations. JFC does accept calls from the public and from children. Cases are referred from social service agencies, families or children, professional organizations and hotlines, law enforcement, district attorney offices, etc.


The main headquarters of JFC are in Houston, with a second location in Washington, DC.



4200 Connecticut Ave., NW
Building 38, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone:       (202) 274-7314
Fax:                 (202) 274-5569
Website:          www.law.udc.edu/?page=JuvenileClinic


100% Children’s Law


The Juvenile Law Clinic of the David A. Clarke School of Law was started in the 1970’s to focus on the legal needs of children in the local community. The Clinic’s staff of three attorneys recruits attorneys and trains law students to represent parents of children, as well as the children themselves, with special education needs who are in the neglect and delinquency systems. The staff trains law students as part of the law school curriculum. The Clinic’s faculty also engages in impact work. Examples include: (1) representing a class of persons with mental retardation; (2) developing and publishing in 1995 a symposium regarding illegal detention of children; and (3) developing a manual regarding representing children with special education needs who are in the delinquency system.



600 New Jersey Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001
Telephone:       (202) 662-9590
Fax:                 (202) 662-9681
Website:          www.law.georgetown.edu/clinics/jjc/index.html


100% Children’s Law
Does Not Use Volunteer Attorneys


The Juvenile Justice Clinic began through a grant in 1973 and provides training to 14 law students a year as part of the law school’s curriculum. Students receive academic credit for their participation in the clinic and handle approximately 50–80 children’s law cases each year. The Clinic is staffed with two to three attorneys. Law students are teamed with staff attorneys to assist clients referred from Juvenile Court, social service agencies and other attorneys in the community. The Clinic also retains social workers, child development specialists and psychologists as paid consultants when needed. Impact litigation is not handled at this time. All materials produced by the Clinic in the above areas are available through the D.C. Bar.



1300 L St. NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
Telephone:       (202) 824-8680

Email:              info@supportKIND.org
Website:          www.supportkind.org


Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) is a non-profit organization founded by Microsoft Corporation and actress Angelina Jolie in 2008. Its mission is to assist unaccompanied children in the immigration system. KIND helps children with all types of immigration cases, including those in which the child is likely to be deported. KIND provides assistance with asylum, special immigrant juvenile status, U or T visas, VAWA petitions, family based petitions, and other forms of protection from deportation.


KIND works to find pro bono lawyers to represent these unaccompanied children. KIND has partnered with 43 law firms and corporations who have committed to providing pro bono support. KIND hosts trainings to teach attorneys about the immigration process and legal remedies available to children. KIND also provides comprehensive assistance and mentorship to the pro bono attorneys who take on cases. KIND is also partnering with NGOs with expertise in working with unaccompanied children. KIND provides fellowships for attorneys and paralegals at NGOs to dedicate their time and talent to exclusively represent unaccompanied children.


By 2010, KIND intends to ensure that all unaccompanied children in the cities where it works have legal representation. KIND also advocates for changes in U.S. law to protect the rights of unaccompanied children. KIND’s headquarters are in Washington, DC, with field offices in Baltimore, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, and New York City.



1350 Connecticut Ave., NW, Ste. 304
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone:       (202) 452-0010
Fax:                 (202) 452-1205
Website:          www.njdc.info


Created in the 1970s as a part of the ABA, the Center works to monitor and influence the policy, practice, fiscal and administrative changes rapidly emerging in juvenile justice systems across the nation. The Center has now left the ABA and is a free-standing non-profit, with regional centers around the country.


The Center provides training, technical assistance, model program design, information and advocacy, and responds to a vast assortment of juvenile delinquency issues and provides leadership to state and local practitioners, bar associations, defenders, judges, youth workers, correctional agency staff, policy makers, and the like. The Center produces a number of policy publications on juvenile justice systems.


The Center addresses many issues such as: quality representation and access to counsel in juvenile delinquency proceedings; juvenile detention and correction reform; waiver/transfer of juveniles into the adult criminal courts; over-representation of children of color in the juvenile justice system; implementing the juvenile justice standards; and designing and implementing model programs. Some of the goals recently identified by the Center include: improving conditions of confinement for youth; increasing juveniles’ access to counsel and quality of representation at all stages of the juvenile justice system; and addressing the needs of children waived to adult criminal court.



1411 K St., NW, Ste. 1400
Washington, DC 20005
Telephone:       (202) 638-2535
Fax:                 (202) 628-2737
Email:              info@nlchp.org
Website:          www.nlchp.org


35% Children’s Law
Does Use Volunteer Attorneys


The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty was established in 1989 as the legal arm of the movement to end homelessness, with an emphasis on protecting the rights of homeless children and youth. The Center focuses on children’s civil rights, government benefits, and the education rights of homeless children and youth (the McKinney-Vento Act). As part of its mission to end homelessness, the Center works to ensure that all homeless children and youth have access to a free, appropriate public education and a real opportunity for academic success. The Center can provide legal and practice information to practicing lawyers, as well as technical assistance and support for cases, opportunities to become involved in education issues on behalf of homeless children and youth, amicus briefs, connection to pro bono assistance from law firms, a membership network, and other assistance and support as needed. The Center has numerous publications available on the education rights of homeless children and youth. Calls are accepted from the public and from children seeking legal information.


The Center utilizes volunteer attorneys, law students and other professionals, in addition to five staff attorneys. Volunteer attorneys provide legal research, and help with policy and legal strategizing. The office does handle impact litigation, such as Lampkin v. District of Columbia, which resulted in a 1995 appellate court decision that the McKinney-Vento Act is enforceable via 42 USC 1983.