It Starts at Home: Building Strong Families Through Multidisciplinary Advocacy

By Giving List Staff   |   November 18, 2022
CLC is the largest children's legal services organization in the nation, advocating for over 30,000 children and youth in the Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Placer County foster care systems.

Pauline, a 19-year-old in Los Angeles’ extended foster care program and a new mother, drew the unwanted attention of the Department of Children and Family Services. Terrified she might lose her baby and unsure of her rights, she turned to her attorney at Children’s Law Center of California (CLC). 

Utilizing a unique multi-disciplinary model, CLC exclusively represents children and youth in the child welfare system. In Los Angeles, CLC’s clients number a mind-boggling 28,000, all of whom are subject to potentially life-altering decisions – up to and often including whether a child will be reunified with their family. 

CLC Executive Director Leslie Starr Heimov with CLC client April and her son at the Art of Advocacy Gala. As a young parent in foster care, April shared her story of resilience and how CLC helped her in reunifying with her son, Eric.

Launched in 1990, CLC has expanded its work beyond in-court representation to address a multitude of their clients’ needs – everything from mental health specialists to special education advocates and more.  

“Our clients’ needs drive our work,” says CLC’s Executive Director Leslie Starr Heimov. “We focus on wrapping our clients and their families with the holistic advocacy and support they need to thrive.”

These efforts have promoted innovative projects and programs, including one focused on parenting youth like Pauline.

When CLC began its work with Pauline, the team learned the complaints that initiated the investigation resulted from retaliatory, harassing calls to the emergency hotline by a former partner – an all-too-common occurrence. CLC helped guide Pauline through the investigatory process, supporting her at every stage. Once it was all over – without a case ever being opened – Pauline’s CLC advocacy team helped her develop a co-parenting plan to avoid future issues. 

“I got a lot of support from my CLC team, and I knew that whatever was going to happen, I could trust them,” Pauline said. “Even today, I know I can call them if anything comes up. I know my daughter is safe with them, and she’s going to be safe with me.”

Building on their current work for parenting youth in foster care, CLC is embarking on an ambitious new endeavor: a Family Advocacy and Support Center. This soon-to-launch program will build bridges into the community to support former clients and, in the long term, keep children safe and families together.


Children’s Law Center of California

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(323) 980-1538
Development Manager: Stephanie Talavera


Children’s Law Center of California (CLC) provides legal representation for children and youth impacted by abuse and neglect. We advocate for our clients by supporting families; fighting for reunification, permanence, educational opportunity, health, and mental health wellness; and empowering and strengthening children, families, and their communities. Our informed approach to advocacy makes us a powerful voice in local, statewide, and national child welfare system reform.

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The Family Support and Advocacy Center helped my small family with legal advice and got our DCFS case closed. Parent Support Case Manager Christopher Fry and attorney Maria Griglio were super supportive, friendly, and consistently checked in on me to see how they can help with finding resources or even directing me in the right direction. They gave me updates consistently throughout the duration of working through my DCFS investigation and helped put my mind at ease. I would recommend FSAC to any family in need of support because they are a great team.
Marilynn F.

Help Give Youth a Voice in Their Own Lives

Children’s Law Center of California is working to help youth raise their voices and be heard. 

CLC is expanding its multidisciplinary approach by launching a youth advisory council made up of former foster youth. The council will be comprised of young people who have had a variety of experiences in the system, such as being reunified with their family, being adopted, or aging out of the system. 

Through this council, young people will have the opportunity to inform and inspire a reimagining of the child welfare system based on their experiences.  The council’s honest reflections will help CLC to  meet their goal of continuous quality improvement and ever greater impact.

A gift of $2,500 will help seed the creation of the youth council and ensure that the youth members have the support and resources they need to meet the goals they set.

Key Supporters

Friends of CLC
American Business Bank
Benjy Grinberg
and Ellen Goldberg
California Community Foundation
Chay and Kim Lapin
Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Dara and Conan Barker
In-N-Out Burger Foundation
Joseph and Jean Mandel
Neal Kaufman, MD, MPH
Pritzker Foster Care Initiative
Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
Reissa Foundation
Samuel and Helene
Soref Foundation
The Barry and Wendy
Meyer Foundation
The Durfee Foundation
W.M. Keck Foundation
Good+ Foundation
The Walter S. Johnson
Matt Groening