Complex issues often keep teens from taking full advantage of the educational opportunities available to them: abusive parents, homelessness, special ed needs, or immigration issues. Teens might be parents themselves and need financial assistance so they can finish high school. They could be moving around a lot without stable housing and without transportation to school.
Bringing Legal Resources Directly to Teens
The Center for Children’s Advocacy established the Teen Legal Advocacy Project in 1998 with the first clinic on-site at Hartford Public High School, one of six school-based legal services programs in the country. We are now on-site at Bridgeport’s Harding High School and provide legal services to youth in schools, shelters, and community agencies, and a mobile legal office brings our attorneys directly to community locations.
SpeakUpTeens.org provides practical information for teens.
Our publications cover many topics:
- Running Away from Home and Truancy
Will I get locked up if I run away from home? Can I be locked up for missing a lot of school?
- Dating and Abuse
My boyfriend/girlfriend is older than me. Is that legal? What are my rights if I am sexually assaulted?
- State and Federal Benefits
Do I have to be emancipated before I can get cash assistance? Can you help me get benefits?
Individual cases expose systemic issues. Through administrative and legislative advocacy, we promote change to policies and practices:
We provide training for teens and for professionals who work with teens.
Training helps teens understand their legal rights and advocate for themselves when issues arise.
Professional training helps attorneys, child advocates and agency personnel recognize and respond to legal issues. Training topics include statutory rape, the legal rights of teens in foster care, the legal rights of teens in group placements, teens’ access to state and federal benefits, the educational rights of homeless children and youth, and immigration laws affecting teens.
Systemic Reform Success
CCA was a leader in statewide advocacy to generate systemic reforms
that increase services and access to housing for youth and young adults
experiencing homelessness. CCA supported and guided innovative
Community Care Teams in New London, Bridgeport, Stamford, and
Manchester in the development of four “hubs” for minors experiencing
homelessness, which bring together a wide range of community health,
mental health, education, homeless service, and social service providers
to stabilize a youth’s housing and provide services.
“Keyana” had grown up in DCF care but had been discharged from care after she got
pregnant, had a baby, and turned 18. Left on her own, she soon became homeless and
was living in her car with “Jaelynn,” her young daughter. Keyana is fiercely protective
of her daughter, and contacted many agencies looking for a safe place to live, but could not find an affordable apartment. \
She applied to reenter DCF care, but DCF would not approve her application and told her that if she didn’t get stable housing on her own, DCF would remove Jaelynn from her custody. CCA is the last line of defense for youth in Keyana’s situation. Keyana reached out for legal help, and CCA represented her, helping get approval for her application to reenter DCF care.
Keyana is now receiving a rent stipend, case management, and food assistance from DCF, which will allow her to remain in stable housing and ensure Jaelynn is not separated from her mother.