May 31, 2024

May is National Foster Care Month. CCA provides legal representation to children alleged to have been abused and neglected, and advocates for legislative and policy changes to advance the interests of youth and families involved with the state’s child welfare system. Our attorney training program and website impact legal representation beyond the capacity of our staff.

CCA has long been a leading source of high-quality holistic legal representation for children and youth who are alleged to have been abused or neglected and are involved with the State Department of Children and Families. CCA’s legal representation enforces children’s and youth’s legal rights in all areas of their lives impacted by their alleged traumatic experiences – education, physical and mental health care, and access to family. CCA’s child welfare attorneys speak up for children and youth so they don’t get lost in the system.

CCA’s Holistic Representation: “Luis'” Story

CCA’s representation of children and youth involved with DCF is holistic. In addition to addressing DCF services and placement, family connections, and case planning, CCA attorneys address legal issues related to the child’s education, physical and mental health, and, for older youth, transition to adulthood. 15-year-old “Luis” was chronically absent from high school, and when he did attend school, had regular behavioral outbursts and aggressive behavior that resulted in his being removed from the classroom and suspended from school.

The school referred the family to DCF and DCF was considering removing him from his parents’ home and placing him in out-of-home foster or group care. CCA represented “Luis”, successfully advocating for him to be connected to a therapist who would be able to provide in-person therapy and medication management, and for the court to allow “Luis” to remain with his parents with family supports in place instead of allowing DCF to place him in out-of-home care.

CCA also successfully advocated for “Luis” with the school system, to ensure he could have one-on-one academic support from an experienced teacher’s assistant. “Luis'” goal is to become an auto mechanic, and the school agreed to enroll him in an automotive repair vocational program if he attended school and showed improved behavior. His attendance and behavior improved, and he is looking forward to attending automotive repair classes over the summer!

CCA’s LGBTQ Youth Advocacy Project 

Next month is Pride Month and to commemorate we are launching our newest webpage for our LGBTQ+ Youth Advocacy Project. LGBTQ youth face unique challenges, including difficulty accessing affirming medical care, discrimination at school and work, and increased rates of homelessness. CCA’s LGBTQ Youth Advocacy Project brings legal resources directly to LGBTQ youth. A CCA attorney is embedded in the Yale Pediatric Gender Program as part of the Medical-Legal Partnership with Yale New Haven Hospital. CCA also partners with community organizations like the New Haven Pride Center to provide legal advice and education to youth in a low-barrier setting.

The LGBTQ Youth Advocacy Project works to change policy and practices at a local and state level including improving school climate and addressing the needs of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. The LGBTQ Youth Advocacy Project provides training and education directly to youth in addition to parents, caregivers, educators, advocates, and medical providers on topics like bullying, harassment, and discrimination; state and federal civil rights laws; education rights of LGBTQ youth; the legal landscape of gender-affirming care; and name and gender marker changes. 

Our new webpage will be published by June 4th! For more information about the rights of LGBTQ+ youth in schools in 2024, click here. For more information about CCA’s LGBTQ+ Project, contact Attorney Mallory Sanchez.  

Goodwin University Honorary Degree

CCA’s founder and executive director, Martha Stone, was recognized with an honorary degree from Goodwin University on May 23rd. During the commencement ceremony, Martha was accompanied by Elizabeth Sheff, the plaintiff, and Alex Knopp, the plaintiffs’ representative, from the landmark civil rights case Sheff V. O’Neill, actor and producer Eriq La Salle, and philanthropist Henry Zachs. 

Pictured: Eriq La Salle, Elizabeth Sheff, Martha Stone, Alex Knopp, Henry Zachs

CCA awarded the Connecticut Bar Foundation’s Anthony M. Fitzgerald Award for Excellence

The Anthony M. Fitzgerald Award for Excellence in Advocacy from the Connecticut Bar Foundation recognizes the outstanding achievements and dedicated service of individuals and organizations in providing legal aid to low-income clients in Connecticut. This award acknowledges the commitment to providing zealous and skilled legal representation to those in need. By honoring these individuals and organizations, the award highlights the importance of ensuring access to justice for all, regardless of income level. CCA will be presented with this award on May 30th.

Pictured: Ginny Kim, Kate Boucher, Stacey Violante Cote, Bonnie Roswig, Martha Stone, Claude Mayo

2024 Connecticut’s Hospital Community Service Award

Each year, the Connecticut Hospital Association, honoring both hospitals and individuals in healthcare, presents distinguished awards. All of the recipients have demonstrated outstanding commitment to leading, representing, and serving hospitals and other healthcare-related organizations. CCA’s Medical-Legal Partnership Project (MLPP) at Yale New Haven Hospital was selected as a recipient of this award and will be honored on June 13th. Accepting the award on behalf of the MLPP at Yale New Haven Hospital will be project director Attorney Sarah Mervine, Dr. Ada Fenick, CCA intake coordinator LaShawna Lockhart, and CCA staff attorney Nicole Wallach.

Inspiring Organic Youth-Led Collaboration

For their spring concert, the students from New Fairfield High School and their Choral Director decided to raise money for a charity since some of the music they performed had a strong message of justice. The students nominated charities based on their research and then held a final vote for which charity to support, and we are delighted to announce the Center for Children’s Advocacy was chosen!

The students sold ribbons at the concert which took place on the evening of April 30th, and they also sold ribbons during their school lunch in the lead-up to the concert. 

We are so grateful and honored to share that the students at New Fairfield High School raised $230 for the Center for Children’s Advocacy this year in support of our 26-year-strong mission to fight for the legal rights of Connecticut’s most vulnerable children. Thank you to Andrew Gadwah, New Fairfield High School’s Choral Director, for sharing this inspiring story and the pictures below, AND a special shout out to the chorus of New Fairfield High School for your in-community engagement on behalf of CCA!

Pathways to Success: Trailblazers and Innovators In Youth Justice Conference

During the Tow Youth Justice Institute’s conference on May 22nd, CCA attorney Bonnie Roswig spoke on the panel “Building Inclusive Systems for Youth with Disabilities.” The youth involved in CCA’s Speak Up Initiative attended this forum that discussed factors that have positively impacted youth in Connecticut, improvements made to the Juvenile Justice system, and to gain a deeper understanding of the complex needs of the small number of youth who recidivate. The panel also explored innovative strategies implemented to address these needs and their impact on public safety.

CCA’s Utility Clinics: Keep The Power On

To help families with low incomes prevent utility shutoffs, access affordable payment arrangements and increase access to available income supports and services, CCA held four Keep the Power On Consumer Utility Clinics this spring, in Hartford, New Britain and Waterbury, serving 78 children. At the Clinics, CCA and its volunteer attorneys met with families to provide budget counseling, help families enroll in affordable utility payment programs that prevent service termination, and provide screening to identify benefits and services the families were entitled to but were not receiving. For information about families’ consumer protection rights, click here. For more information about utility protection rights, click here and for the Spanish Language version, click here. For more information or to inquire about a fall Consumer Utility Clinic, contact Attorney Bonnie Roswig.

The Clinics were a true collaborative effort, supported by partnerships with:

Waterbury, April 25th: New Opportunities, Inc. (Community Action Agency), Trinity Healthcare Care Coordination, North End Recreation Center of Waterbury, Manchester Community College Paralegal Program

Hartford May 3rd: Community Health Centers of Hartford, Community Resource Team (Community Action Agency), Pullman & Comley, LLC, Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder PC, Manchester Community College Paralegal Program

New Britain May 15th: YWCA of New Britain, Community Health Centers of New Britain, Human Resource Agency (Community Action Agency), Pullman & Comley, LLC

SIJS Pro Bono Project

CCA trains and provides guidance and technical assistance to pro bono attorneys to represent undocumented children and youth in state probate court as part of the process to secure Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Securing SIJS allows children/youth, who have been abused, neglected, and abandoned, to remain legally in the U.S. and places them on a pathway to securing permanent legal residence and U.S. citizenship. 

Attorneys representing children and youth through CCA’s SIJS Pro Bono Project represent them in Connecticut State Probate Court to secure a guardianship decree and a predicate decree finding that the child/youth is eligible to apply to federal immigration authorities (USCIS) to obtain SIJ status. 

Attorneys interested in providing pro bono representation through CCA’s Pro Bono Project: 

  • Must be admitted to practice in CT state court
  • Participate in CCA’s training 
  • Accept a case referral to represent a child/youth in state probate court on a petition for guardianship and petition for SIJ findings 

Throughout the case representation, CCA provides close support and guidance including case strategy sessions, review of draft pleadings, and consultation for hearing preparation. 

The number of immigrant children and youth in need of legal representation is overwhelming and the need is urgent, as children have a limited time to avail themselves of this immigration relief before they turn 21 and lose the opportunity forever. Our pro bono attorneys make a lasting difference in the lives of immigrant children and youth. For more information contact Attorney Sabrina Tavi.

March Spotlight Event: Giving Children A Voice

Our second event in Fairfield County this year took place on March 28th. Spearheaded and hosted by our Board Director, Chris Mattei, to capture the spirit of our founding mission of Giving Children a Voice, and sponsored Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder PC, Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessy LLP, and Silver Golub & Teitell LLP, this event offered CCA a chance to further elevate our profile across Fairfield County, and build awareness of our life-changing work. We welcomed over sixty guests, including members of the CCA Board, and we were extremely grateful to include Governor Lamont and Congressman Himes in the evening’s brief program. We were especially honored both Micah and his mother, Shanique, could join us and share their voices on the power of CCA’s Immigrant Children’s Justice Project:

“The lawyers and everyone at CCA are an asset fighting for the best interests and future of our children. Every child has a right to a full and happy life. CCA advocates and gives help and hope, gives a voice for our children who cannot speak for themselves …”   

To ensure our impact is felt within and across Fairfield County, we would also like to thank Stockman O’Connor PLLC for their Growth Investor sponsorship. 

7th Annual Statewide Care Coordination Forum

The 7th Annual Statewide Care Coordination Forum, hosted by the Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination, convenes professionals from all sectors who work with children and families to learn from experts and exchange ideas. CCA attorney Bonnie Roswig joined by Medical-Legal Partnership Director from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Dr. Robert Keder, will hold a presentation to train and engage participants in using aspects of the ADA to advocate for children and families in the context of care coordination. The forum is Wednesday and Thursday, June 5th and 6th, from 8 am to 12 pm. Click here to register.

CCA’s flagship fundraising event, Spring for Kids 2024, is taking place on Thursday, June 20th, in the Yard Goat Club at Dunkin’ Park in Hartford, and we hope you can join us!

At Spring for Kids, CCA presents Champions of Children Awards to Connecticut leaders who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to improving the lives of impoverished and vulnerable children in our state.  This year, we will be honoring your successor, State Treasurer Erick Russell as a 2024 Champion of Children, in recognition of his compassion and dedication to improving the lives of Connecticut’s most at-risk children and youth through both his championship—following in your footsteps—of the nation’s first Baby Bonds program and his authenticity and voice on behalf of Connecticut’s LGBTQ+ youth. For their vision of an equitable system of collaboration where young people who have experienced homelessness work alongside other stakeholders as employed action researchers and equal partners in the design of services they receive and in the development of comprehensive policies and practices to end youth homelessness, we will also be honoring the Youth Action Hub as a 2024 Champion of Children.  New Haven’s Community Leadership Program led by philanthropist Bill Graustein will receive this year’s Sustainability Award.

Our goal is to raise $200,000 through a combination of sponsorship, ticket sales, donations and our Bid for Kids! silent auction, noting that all income from the event directly supports the Center’s mission-driven work.  Join us to honor our Champions by purchasing your tickets today!

An Inspiring Evening of Remarkable Stories: Spring for Kids 2024



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