Legal Counsel for Youth and Children Programs
Children in foster care have their lives changed dramatically by court orders. While in foster care, children may experience multiple changes in placement, school disruption, and separation from family and friends. Statistics on children “aging out” of the foster care system show low rates of high school graduation and high rates of homelessness, criminal involvement, and poverty. Most of these children have been removed from their homes. All of these children risk losing permanent connections to parents, grandparents, siblings, and other family. Yet in Washington, several hundred – if not thousands – of these children must go to court and deal with these changes without having an attorney on their side to advocate for their interests.
LCYC provides each child we serve with a thorough, developmentally appropriate, in-person explanation of the child’s legal rights and options regarding his current situation and future desires on critical issues like placement, services, planning for independence, visitation, and education.
In order to address the wide range of issues facing these youth, LCYC utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach, collaborating with child advocacy specialists to help assess and coordinate changes in placement and services. Children served by LCYC also benefit from our relationships with other nonprofits and pro bono attorneys who can help to address issues such as probate, immigration and family law.
Providing attorneys to children in foster care is not just empowering for these children – it also makes fiscal sense. Studies have shown that providing an attorney to youth in dependency proceedings can significantly improve outcomes: children represented by attorneys have been shown to move to permanent homes (and out of foster care) at a rate about 1.5 times higher than unrepresented children, reducing foster care and court expenditures by an average of 32%. Washington State would significantly benefit from these cost savings.
LCYC also responds to calls from or regarding children in domestic crisis, who face familial challenges threatening their stability, safety and access to school, among other issues. LCYC also serves children who are deemed at risk, in need of services, or truant by the court. LCYC meets in-person with all of its clients to learn more about their current familial situations and provide advice on their options moving forward. While these children are not currently in open dependencies, leaving these issues unaddressed could eventually lead to additional court involvement and out of home care. LCYC’s initial interventions are designed to help avoid these increased costs.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
LCYC's holistic and specialized approach to representing children can have an impact on our clients' lives in and out of the courtroom.
- LCYC helps families stay together – LCYC has successfully advocated for keeping children at home with a parent throughout the dependency case or with a relative until reunification with a parent or other family member is possible.
- LCYC advocates at school meetings and hearings for children in special education to help improve their experience in school and ensure appropriate and necessary educational services are in place.
- LCYC helps brothers and sisters who are separated into different foster homes be reunited under one roof.
- LCYC ensures that children are engaged in their court cases by meeting with children prior to each hearing.
Your financial contribution will help LCYC continue to work to improve outcomes for our community's most vulnerable children. Specifically, your gift will:
- Directly support the expansion of high-quality legal services to Washington’s children in foster care and children experiencing domestic crisis;
- Help ensure the protection of each child’s unique legal rights;
- Help give each child involved in a dependency case in Washington – regardless of age – a voice in the proceedings;
- Save Washington State money by minimizing the time a youth is in out-of-home care and related court costs; and
- Help LCYC realize its vision of building a multi-disciplinary team of attorneys, social workers, and educational advocates, who will work together to provide holistic services to children.