Fighting for the legal rights of Connecticut’s most vulnerable children

 

Center for Children’s Advocacy is the largest children’s legal rights organization in New England!

 

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.

 

Supporting Teens and Homeless Youth

Teens may be dealing with abusive parents, homelessness, special education needs, or immigration issues. They may need financial assistance so they can finish high school, or be living in a shelter without transportation to school. We work with teens who are involved with other community agencies and with youth who live in shelters throughout the state. Our Mobile Office stops throughout the community to help resolve legal issues. 

 

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.

 

Helping Immigrant Children

There are growing numbers of immigrant children in Connecticut. A forgotten population, these students have very few advocates. Many have significant trauma related to arrival in the United States. They fled abuse and neglect and live in fear of being returned to life-threatening conditions. Many arrive here alone, without a parent or guardian. The Center helps at-risk children avoid deportation to a dangerous environment, and helps traumatized children get the support they need to learn English and succeed in school.

 

Reducing Racial Disparities

Connecticut youth of color are subjected to policies and practices that result in educational disparities and juvenile justice involvement. Through legislative advocacy, administrative advocacy, litigation and collaborative work with communities and agencies, the Center identifies and reforms policies and practices that result in racial inequity. The Center for Children’s Advocacy and the National Center for Children’s Law and Policy co-chair Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED) committees in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury. 

 

Promoting Youth Voice

The Center’s Speak Up Project developed a curriculum that helps youth involved with Connecticut’s juvenile justice or child welfare systems learn self- advocacy skills and speak up to secure the services and supports that are critical to their safety and success. Youth in juvenile justice settings must be very strong advocates for themselves to realize success as they take their place in the community.

 

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, Law Students, 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. CCA 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.  Student intern experiences include written and oral testimony on proposed state legislation. Click here for videos of CCA UConn Law student interns testifying before Connecticut legislative committees. 


 

Learn more about the Center’s Work

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