Breaking the Foster Care Cycle, One Young Family at a Time
The Children’s Law Center of California is the nation’s largest nonprofit law firm exclusively representing children – including those who are part of Los Angeles County’s complex and intimidating dependency courts, where judges make life-altering decisions. The firm represents a mind-blowing 35,000 children and youth.
CLC’s skilled lawyers represent children in some of the highest stakes proceedings in American jurisprudence, such as whether or not a child will be severed from or reunified with his or her biological parents.
Since its launch in 1990, CLC has expanded its work beyond straightforward representation, pioneering the concept of “multi-disciplinary advocacy teams” that include clinicians, social workers, peer advocates, and educational and mental health specialists to ensure that the children, youth and families the firm serves are wrapped with the support they need.
“Rather than a child welfare system that keeps children from their families in the name of ‘protection,’ we envision one that strengthens families and communities so children can remain safely in their homes with their parents. That is what is best for our clients, their families, and society at large,” says CLC’s veteran Executive Director Leslie Starr Heimov.
CLC was also among the first, if not the first, law offices in the nation to hire former foster youth to serve as peer advocates. They help older kids still in the system with critical life tasks such as filling out financial aid forms, locating housing or getting a job.
The specialized Child Advocacy and Resource Effort Program, or “CARE” teams, serve hundreds of high-need foster care youth who are victims of trafficking, have been arrested, are parents themselves, or have complex mental health needs. Their attorneys have greatly reduced caseloads and work alongside survivor and peer advocates, case managers and mental health experts.
“It’s an extremely expensive service delivery model, but if we want to be successful with the kids that have the most challenges in front of them, we have to put the resources into them so that they can heal and move forward,” Heimov says.
CLC’s CARE Team for Expectant and Parenting Youth (EPY), which began as a pilot program two years ago, seeks to break the multi-generational foster care cycle. Half of children born to mothers in foster care will enter the child welfare system by their second birthday, according to a 2018 study in the Journal of Pediatrics.
“That’s not because they are bad parents,” Heimov stresses. “It’s because every move they make is scrutinized by someone, and they do not have access to the same resources, tools and support that other parents do.”
When Jewell, a new teen mother, met CLC’s attorneys and case managers at the age of 16, she was “going through a lot.”
“I didn’t really have anything so the Children’s Law Center helped me get the things that I needed for me and my daughter as well,” she says.
Today, with that support, Jewell is attending college, provides for her daughter and calls her new outlook “amazing.”
With the odds stacked against young parents in foster care, CLC realized it needs to invest in them with love, support and supplies before and after the birth so that they can become the family they desire.
“It really is an investment in the next generation, it’s breaking the cycle and it’s extremely effective,” Heimov says.
Executive Director: Leslie Heimov
Children’s Law Center of California (CLC) is a non profit, public interest law firm that provides legal representation for tens of thousands of children impacted by abuse and neglect. We provide an unparalleled level of expertise in and out of the courtroom. Our highly skilled, passionate and committed attorneys, investigators, and support staff fight to ensure the well-being and future success of our clients through a multi-disciplinary, independent and informed approach to advocacy. We are a powerful voice for our clients fighting for family reunification, permanence, educational opportunity, health and mental health services, self-sufficiency and overall well-being. We are a driving force in local, statewide and national policy change and child welfare system reform.
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While navigating the complicated layers of the child welfare system, my wife and I learned about CLC and their incredible advocacy for youth in foster care. We support CLC because we are passionate about making contributions that will last and will impact as many children as possible. The unfortunate fact is that CLC’s clients have so many unmet needs, and they need your help to reach the tens of thousands of youth they represent.
A $2500 Gift
Children’s Law Center of California’s multidisciplinary advocacy enables the nonprofit law firm to protect and promote the well-being of its clients, especially those in need of urgent involvement. CLC offers intensive care and support for young parents and those about to become parents in foster care. Through relational legal advocacy, its new prevention project can address obstacles that may arise for a young parent. From securing diapers and blankets to helping parents set up childcare or other support, CLC strives to prevent more children and families from entering the foster care system. As of July, this project served nearly 170 clients. Your gift of $2,500 would help CLC expand this vital program, helping to break the foster care cycle, one young family at a time.
Friends of CLC
Roland and Sally Kelly
Joseph and Jean Mandel
California Community Foundation
American Business Bank
Tyler Childs and Caitlin Youngs
Benjy Grinberg and Ellen Goldberg
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
The Barry and Wendy Meyer Foundation
The Durfee Foundation
Samuel and Helene Soref Foundation
Neal Kaufman, MD, MPH
Dara and Conan Barker
Chay and Kim Lapin
Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
Sacramento Region Community Foundation
Perkins Coie LLP – International Law Firm
Majestic Realty Foundation