Complex issues often keep teens from educational success.
Abusive parents, homelessness, special education needs, or immigration issues. Teens may be parents and need financial assistance so they can finish high school, or be living in a shelter without transportation to school.
CCA established the Teen Legal Advocacy Clinic in 1998 at Hartford Public High School, one of six school-based legal services programs in the country at that time. In 2007, we opened a Clinic at Harding High School in Bridgeport.
Mobile Legal Office
CCA’s Mobile Legal Office travels through communities to help youth resolve legal issues. We work with teens who are involved with other community agencies and with youth who live in shelters throughout the state. Watch a video about our Mobile Legal Office here.
CCA attorneys provide legal representation and advocacy to help solve crises that prevent educational success:
- Abuse and Neglect – What are my rights if my parents are abusive?
- Homelessness – Can I stay in school if I don’t have a permanent place to live?
- Education/Special Education – What are my options if I’m not doing well in school?
- Emancipation – Can I live independently from my parents?
- Immigration – Can I stay in this country legally? What is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?
- Teen Parents – How do I get a court order to get child support? Ho can I establish paternity?
- Reproductive Health Care – Do I need permission from my parent or guardian?
- Running Away from Home and Truancy – Can I get locked up if I run away or miss school?
- Sexual Assault – My boyfriend/girlfriend is older than me. Is that legal? What if I was sexually assaulted?
- State and Federal Benefits – Do I have to be emancipated to get cash assistance? Can you help me get benefits that were denied?
Individual cases expose systemic issues. Through administrative and legislative advocacy, CC promotes changes to state policies and practices:
- Legal Rights of Runaway and Homeless Youth
- Legal Rights of Teens in Shelters, Group Homes, and Residential Facilities
- Education Services for Pregnant Students
- Services for Abused and Neglected Teens through state agencies (DCF, DMHAS, DDS)
Legal Rights Training for Teens and Professionals
Trainings help youth understand their legal rights so they can advocate for themselves when issues arise. Professional training helps attorneys, child advocates and agency or placement personnel who work with teens recognize legal issues and respond appropriately.
Topics include statutory rape, rights of teens in foster care or group placements, access to state and federal benefits, educational rights of homeless children and youth, and immigration laws affecting teens.
Publications and Resources
CCA publishes brochures on many subjects that have enormous impact on the lives of Connecticut’s youth. Topics include Adolescent Health Care, Benefits and Child Support, Detention, Emancipation, Immigration, Parenting Teens, Runaway and Homeless Youth, LGBT Rights, Education, Teen Dating Violence, Rights in DCF Care. Click for publications and information.
Baya was born in Nigeria.
She lost her mother when she was six months old and was cared for by her grandmother. When Baya was eight, her grandmother died and her father arranged to bring her to his home in the U.S.
Baya’s father and stepmother physically abused her. Following custom, the Nigerian community intervened and assumed Baya’s care. Her father ceased all support and contact.
Baya always assumed she could not get legal status in the U.S. She became an exceptional student, valedictorian of her class, and received a full scholarship to a prestigious university. Just before her 18th birthday, Baya talked to someone in her school’s international student office, who referred her to the U.S. Commission on Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). USCRI thought she might qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) status and referred Baya to the Center for Children’s Advocacy.
CCA immediately filed a neglect petition in juvenile court, and secured a hearing and SIJ status, allowing Baya to apply for lawful permanent residence. CCA also secured DCF support for Baya through college graduation. Congratulations to Baya on all her successes.
Shantel had little family or community support. She suffered from the debilitating effects of domestic violence. Her life was in crisis and she didn’t know how to navigate the state bureaucracy to access the services she needed to be secure and finish high school.
Shantel was moving from shelter to shelter. She needed help to appeal a denial of Supplemental Security Income, and assistance to get support from the Department of Developmental Services. CCA advocated for her right to educational stability as a homeless student under federal law.
Through CCA’s aggressive advocacy, Shantel was able to stay at the high school she attended before she became homeless and receive transportation from the shelter to school. We filed for a hearing at the State Department of Education and secured her placement at a vocational educational program. CCA also helped reverse the improper denial of disability-based assistance from the Social Security Administration.
With CCA help, Shantel completed her vocational training and was hired by a local food service provider.
Stacey Violante Cote, Esq.