JUVENILE RIGHTS PRACTICE

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Representing 90% of all children and youth in New York City's Family Courts

The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice (JRP) offers wide ranging legal services to children and families with court involvement. As a national leader in child advocacy, JRP represents children who appear before Family Court on child welfare, juvenile delinquency and PINS matters.

Over 200 experts at JRP, including attorneys, social workers, paralegals, investigators and support staff, work tirelessly to provide the most comprehensive legal representation possible for our clients.  JRP staff specialize in meeting the unique needs of New York’s vulnerable children.  Our clients benefit from a Practice that is committed to client directed representation and to the ideal that all children, individually, have the right to be heard regarding the important decisions being made that will affect their lives.

Through long standing use of interdisciplinary collaboration, JRP staff provide representation in a holistic manner, ensuring that each facet of our clients’ lives is addressed appropriately by the systems and institutions that are established to provide support, services and in some cases, care.  JRP’s work involves a considerable amount trial work as well as out-of-court advocacy.  Part of our staff's ongoing fight for the rights of children involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems includes providing extensive support to clients and their families with the educational, social, and psychological issues that often accompany their cases. 

JRP’s delivery of client services is enhanced by our innovative projects and expertise.  The Kathryn A. McDonald Educational Advocacy Project (EAP) provides specialized legal and social work assistance in cases requiring educational advocacy.  The Special Litigation and Law Reform Unit addresses the macro inequities our clients face and seeks systemic change.  The Adolescent Practice Teams in each borough provide representation necessary to ensure clients who are aging out of the foster care system receive the entitlements required by law and regulations.  The Trauma Advocacy Project in each borough is a team of staff with expertise in working with children who are the subject of the most difficult abuse cases.  The Appeals Unit handles appeals on behalf of JRP's clients and consults with the trial teams on stays and complex cases.  JRP's Training Program provides a rigorous initial training program for all new staff, a Trial Advocacy Program, a specialized Juvenile Delinquency training, and continuing education on an ongoing basis in the trial offices and through in-depth programs on particular topics.  Additionally, JRP's Director of Legal Support, a renowned expert in the fields of child welfare and juvenile justice, reports on legal and practice developments in JRP's weekly newsletter, which includes case law, legislative updates, and noteworthy publications, ensuring that staff are always current and well-informed in their advocacy.  This resource and trainings are shared with child advocates and juvenile defenders across New York and nationally, enhancing the quality of legal representation for children and youth.