Helping Abused and Neglected Children
Our attorneys represent children who have been abused and neglected. We work to provide protection and safety for every child we represent. Children in the care of the state’s child welfare system should be in a family-like setting whenever possible, have access to consistent and effective education, and receive quality health and mental health care.
Improving Child Health
Our attorneys partner with doctors in low-income communities to improve children’s access to health care, reducing the social and environmental factors that adversely affect health. With ofﬁces on-site at hospitals and community health facilities, our attorneys address issues such as substandard housing, inadequate income and beneﬁts, disability rights, and access to education and health care.
Improving Educational Success
We represent children and youth in Connecticut’s poorest cities, addressing factors that interfere with their ability to succeed in school. We meet with students at our on-site school and hospital legal clinics, at community after-school programs, youth shelters and treatment facilities. We travel through communities with our Mobile Legal Office. We address educational rights, guardianship, housing issues, domestic and dating violence, access to health care and mental health care, and more.
Preventing Truancy and Reducing Involvement with the Juvenile Justice System
The Center prevents and diverts children from involvement in the juvenile justice system by helping with access to education, mental health services and related services. Our collaboration with the Juvenile Probation and Public Defender’s Ofﬁces helps youth get special education services and mental health treatment. We work in urban public school systems to hold school-based Truancy Courts that intervene to prevent truancy and avoid referral to the juvenile justice system.
Generating System Reform
Our systemic advocacy improves the response of the education, juvenile justice, health and child welfare systems to the needs of poor children. Our work has improved conditions in juvenile detention, decreased the number of teens “pushed out” of school, and increased availability of treatment services for at-risk children. Class action lawsuits such as Sheff (the educational equity case), allow the Center to improve educational opportunities for thousands of children. Legislative advocacy inﬂuences state laws that reform systems, ensuring that reforms reﬂect the actual needs of children.
Improving Knowledge and Skills of Attorneys, Child Welfare Professionals, Parents and Youth
The Center’s training program helps us impact the legal representation of children beyond the capacity of our small staff. We provide legal rights trainings for child protection attorneys, doctors, social workers, teachers, parents and youth. Interactive group “Speak Up!” sessions, videos and brochures educate teens about their legal rights and teach them how to advocate for themselves.
Founded in 1997, the Center for Children’s Advocacy is affiliated with UConn Law School. Executive Director Martha Stone teaches a one year course at the Law School that includes formal instruction and on-the-job training on legal advocacy for low-income children and youth. More information about this class is available here.