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Legal Advocates for Children & Youth
Since 1990, LACY has provided premier legal services to the children and youth of Santa Clara County. Our multi-disciplinary practice affords clients the opportunity to benefit from the expertise of attorneys and social workers as their needs are addressed. Our efforts protect the interests of children and empower clients to develop their voice through the legal process. Through direct services and systemic advocacy LACY is able to hold systems accountable and promote social justice for children.
Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth Project LACY’s newest project provides legal and social work services to children and youth up to age 21 who are, are suspected of being, or are at high risk of being commercially sexually exploited.
Educational Empowerment Project The Educational Empowerment Project assists students and their caregivers in school enrollment, school discipline, and special education matters. Since 2002, LACY has collaborated with the Department of Family & Children’s Services, Juvenile Probation, and Morrissey Compton Educational Center through Project YEA! to provide educational advocacy for youth in foster care or in the juvenile justice system. LACY also conducts trainings for parents, social workers, probation officers and attorney about the special education process.
School Discipline Outreach Flyer for Parents (English)
School Discipline Outreach Flyer for Parents (Spanish)
School Discipline Outreach Flyer for Partners
Emancipation Project The Emancipation Project seeks to educate minors, parents, and service providers on the realities of emancipation. LACY represents minors who qualify for emancipation in the court process. A LACY attorney will assist the minor in completing the necessary paperwork and appear in court.
Guardianship Project Staff attempt to help children stabilize their lives by seeking legal guardianships. LACY accepts referrals from service providers and the community to help establish guardianships and prevent minors from entering the foster care system. Additionally, LACY is periodically appointed by local courts to represent children in contested guardianship proceedings.
Juvenile Dependency The primary role of LACY in juvenile dependency matters is to provide legal representation at every stage of a court case. The court appoints LACY to represent the child when allegations of abuse or neglect are made. LACY annually represents over 2000 children in these matters. LACY attorneys and social workers collaborate to independently identify the needs of our clients, ultimately shaping the nature of our courtroom advocacy. Outside the courtroom, LACY staff diligently address education, health and other issues related to the quality of care being provided. Through various committees and workgroups LACY also seeks to improve the operation of the child welfare system.
Medical-Legal Partnership Clinics LACY provides a presence at two facilities operated by the Valley Medical Center, Santa Clara County’s largest public hospital. The medical-legal partnership assists patients in the pediatrics clinic, and their families, with legal issues that impacts children’s health and well-being by providing on-site services. The clinic is housed at both the San Jose and Gilroy Pediatric clinics.
Refugee Foster Care Program LACY serves as an independent review panel for immigrant foster children placed through Catholic Charities. These children are placed in foster homes throughout the Bay Area as a result of being displaced from their families. LACY reviews, and makes appropriate recommendations for, the care and services being provided during their stay in foster care.
Safe Families Project The Safe Families Project provides representation and education for pregnant and parenting teens on paternity, child custody and support, and visitation matters. LACY staff offer a classroom curriculum to provide education on the rights and responsibilities of teen parents. LACY also works within a community collaborative to provide legal services, including assistance on restraining orders, to victims of teen dating violence. The Safe Families Project also extends to high-conflict child custody cases where the court appoints LACY to represent the minor.
Transition-Aged Foster Youth Project LACY addresses the unique legal needs of foster youth through the Transition-Aged Foster Youth Project, which provides legal assistance to current and former foster youth ages 14 to 24 as they move from the foster care system to independent adulthood. Service areas are broad and include education, health care, housing, employment, public benefits, family law, identity theft, and other consumer issues. To increase youth access to services, LACY offers regular drop-in hours, as well as services by appointment, at a community center for transition-aged foster youth.
Every day LACY staff encounter youth with small wishes and needs that go unmet, even though the items cost very little. The LACY Wishbank was created to help these youth. LACY staff submit applications that will be reviewed by a committee of staff and community members and "wishes" will be granted based on need, appropriateness and availability of funds. Make a gift to the Wishbank today and make a difference in a child's life!
Updated: September 2014