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A Day In The Life

Helping Students Thrive in the Education Advocacy Project

As a Staff Attorney in our Education Advocacy Project (EAP), Kai-lin Hsu is helping children get an education. Kai-lin and her colleagues at EAP work with clients from our Juvenile Rights Practice to ensure that all of their educational needs are met. From helping students with learning disabilities find the right schools, to representing children in suspension hearings, Kai-lin makes sure that these most vulnerable New Yorkers have a voice.

Based in the Bronx, Kai-lin works with students and families across the borough to represent and educate New Yorkers. Her work often comes at a crucial time for clients—”these families have a lot of stressors in their lives,” Kai-lin explains. In her time as a Staff Attorney, she’s seen that for many of the families she works with, “Family Court is not a friendly place.”

They are coming into a system that is very adversarial. Family Court is not a friendly place.”

What’s worse, while facing legal issues in Family Court, families continue dealing with the challenges of poverty, mental illness, and substance abuse. Thankfully, Kai-lin and her colleagues fight every day to make life easier for the children they represent and their families.

As a tenacious advocate for her clients, Kai-lin helps them find the resources they need to get the education they deserve. Even though other legal issues in their lives may cause conflict among family and community members, Kai-lin has seen that “often, education is an area where all of the parties can come together and have a meeting of the minds.” And Kai-lin helps make that goal a reality. By working with students, parents, and city agencies, Kai-lin puts our education system to work for children in need, helping them get back on the path towards a brighter future.

Everyday, Kai-lin’s victories connect the next generation of New Yorkers with an education. Take a recent example: after receiving a referral for a student who was having difficulty in school, Kai-lin helped the family coordinate an independent neuropsychological evaluation for the child. When the results came back showing that the student was on the autism spectrum, “it finally made sense” for Kai-lin. With the evaluation in hand, she worked with the Department of Education to have the student placed in a private school that could accommodate his needs.

Education is an area where all of the parties can come together and have a meeting of the minds.

Now, the child is thriving. Kai-lin is thankful to be part of success stories like these and to “make that type of change for these students.” Along with her colleagues in our Education Advocacy Project, Kai-lin is making a positive impact on New Yorkers in need.

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