Children's Rights

To empower low-income children, youth and families and to meet their wide range of needs in civil matters, Public Counsel's Children's Rights Project's multidisciplinary staff provides free legal and other advocacy services.

 Adoptions

The Adoptions project provides representation to parents adopting children in the foster care system.  Located at the Edelman Children's Court in Monterey Park, the Project, with the help of pro bono volunteers, completes adoptions for hundreds of children annually, thereby ensuring the children enjoy a lasting family relationship.  Since the start of the Project, staff and pro bono attorneys have secured more than 6,000 adoptions for children in foster care.  In addition to completing the adoptions, staff and volunteers conduct a comprehensive assessment and address any unmet needs for benefits, Regional Center services, special education, health care, mental health and other services and supports.

Skadden, Arps Guardianship Clinic

Public Counsel staff and volunteers run a pro per guardianship clinic at the Probate Court in downtown Los Angeles three days a week for adults caring for children whose parents are unable or unwilling to care for them. The clinic also conducts screening for other legal needs, and some cases are referred to the main office for legal representation and social work support.

Peace of Mind Program

For children of terminally ill parents, the Peace of Mind program provides legal assistance and intensive social work support to establish a joint guardianship between the parent and another adult.  Public Counsel social workers support families during the final stages of a parent's illness, helping to establish a vital supportive ling betewwn the terminally ill parent and the future caregiver.  In addition, staff help families acccess community services, counseling and benefits. 

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Public Counsel staff and pro bono attorneys provide immigration assistance to vulnerable children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their parents, to help these children obtain Special Immigran Juvenile Status ("SIJS") and Lawful Permanent Residency. Staff also provides support to children and youth as they navigate the guardianship and SIJS processes by ensuring they have the services in place to be successful at home and in their communities. 

Pregnant and Parenting Teens

Pregnant and parenting teens confront multiple challenges regarding their rights and responsibilities as parents.  The Children's Rights Project provides social work support and legal guidance to pregnant and parenting teens on matters relating to government benefits, education, medical and mental health care, housing, paternity, custody, visitation, child support, and other related issues. The project also facilitates education workshops for pregnant and parenting teens, case managers, school personnel and others who serve these youth.

Education Rights

The Education Rights team provides education advocacy for children and families with a special focus on youth in foster care and the delinquency system, and families in East and South Los Angeles, on a broad range of issues including the denial of appropriate and equitable school conditions and services; the failure to properly identify students with learning disabilities or to provide a free and appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; the application of inappropriate and disproportionate discipline; discrimination against students on account of disability, race sexual orientation, homelessness or any other protected status; and retaliation against students for asserting their rights.  Education Rights staff and pro bono attorneys use a range of strategies, including litigation and administrative actions, policy advocacy, community education, and coalition building.  Our team also conducts trainings for parents and providers on education rights and provides representation for cases on appeal.

School Pushout Reversal Project

The School Pushout Reversal Project utilizes policy advocacy, education and legal representation to: 1) reduce unnecessary and disproportionate school removals in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and bring about key policy changes at the School Board level to eliminate school pushout; 2) eliminate the reliance on truancy citations, police involvement, and fines in response to tardiness and truancy in LAUSD, and increase the emphasis on prevention, community- and school-based interventions, and recovery; and 3) reduce school-based arrests and citations and replace police tactics that further the school-to-prison pipeline with supports for students and families.

Advocacy for children with Developmental Disabilities

The Children's Rights Project advocates on behalf of foster, adopted, and delinquent youth who have developmental disabilities.  Staff and pro bono volunteers assist families in navigating the systems of care to ensure that these particularly vulnerable children receive the specialized services and supports to which they are entitled.

Transition Age Foster Youth Advocacy

The Transition Age Foster Youth Advocacy (TAFY)  team provides legal and social work services to foster youth ages 14-21 who are preparing to exit or who have exited the foster care system to help them access education, housing and other benefits necessary for their successful transition from foster care to self-sufficient adulthood.  TAFY works directly with foster youth and collaborates with caregivers, educators, dependency attorneys, social workers and other partners to create effective education and transition plans for foster youth.  TAFY also conducts outreach and training to transitioning youth and community-based organizations on legal issues impacting these youth as they prepare for independent living.  TAFY conducts on-site community-based clinics to assist foster youth students with their education and transition needs.

Dependent Children's Tort Program & Guardians Ad Litem

The Children's Rights Project works with the Dependency Court to ensure that children can exercise their legal rights when they are injured in the foster care system. The Children's Rights Project recruits, trains and provides technical support to pro bono guardians ad litem for foster children who are plaintiffs in tort litigation.

Training and Outreach

The Children's Rights Project conducts training for volunteer attorneys, bench officers and court personnel, schools, community agencies, youth, and families.  Trainings for attorneys include topics that reflect current client needs and qualify for MCLE credits.