Save the Date!

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The Law Foundation's 2018 Celebration of Justice dinner will take place on Thursday, May 24, at the Santa Clara Convention Center and we'd love for you to join us!

Our Celebration of Justice event helps us raise crucial funds for life-changing legal services in Silicon Valley and attracts nearly 800 influential lawyers and business leaders from world-renowned firms and companies, as well as prominent judges and elected officials.

It's the legal event of the year that you won't want to miss!

For information or partnership inquires, contact Carrie Chung at 408.280.2472 or carriec@lawfoundation.org

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Quick Ways You Can Advance Justice

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A Gift for You
As the holiday season quickly approaches, we want to make sure that you stay informed about the social issues affecting our community with a few special recommendations ranging from books, podcasts, articles, and even documentaries from some of our closest supporters! Keep an eye out for our emails coming in December, each with a new recommendation to share with your friends, colleagues, and family. 

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After Thanksgiving, Join Us for Giving Tuesday on November 28
After Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to giving back to your local community. Mark your calendar for November 28 and join us on this national day of giving to help provide crucial, life-changing legal services in Silicon Valley.

With you on our side, we've fought against housing discrimination, secured safe and stable homes for foster children and youth facing abuse and neglect, and we've advocated for patients' rights and affordable healthcare. Help us continue this life-changing work; give for justice this #GivingTuesday and make a donation to the Law Foundation on November 28th. Be sure to invite your friends and colleagues to join you and match your gift to make an even bigger impact in your community!

If you just can't wait for the big day, visit our donation page today to get a head-start on the giving season. 

Another Successful LACY Honors Thanks to You

We had a wonderful time earlier this month at our 24th Annual LACY Honors Awards and Luncheon, an event in support of the Law Foundation's Legal Advocates for Children & Youth program. Thank you to everyone that was able to share the afternoon with us and for supporting the important work of LACY and the Law Foundation.
 

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Click through to see photos from the event, and see if you can spot any of your friends or colleagues!

It was an inspirational afternoon and we are grateful to Brianna who bravely shared her story and why she believes our work is so important for other non-traditional parents like her. Read Brianna's story here. 

We also met Kingston whose mother courageously spoke about the hardships she faced while fighting for his education without a lawyer, highlighting the importance of Medical-Legal Partnerships. If you missed the event, watch Kingston's video here and learn more about how our attorneys and social workers are using the law as a tool for change to advance justice.

Congratulations again to our honorees: Santa Clara County Board Supervisor, Cindy Chavez, whose achievements have been fundamental to the advances of children, youth, and families in Santa Clara County; and Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY), an organization focused on transforming the lives of at-risk and disadvantaged youth through mentorship.

On the Table: A Community Conversation

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As a resident of our community, your voice and insight is fundamental to shaping the solutions to our region's housing crisis. That's why we were so excited to join On the Table this past Wednesday and host two events throughout the day as part of  a region-wide day of community building through conversations led by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. On the Table brought together thousands of local people to eat and talk about our region's housing challenges --- and what we can do to solve them.

Wednesday morning, we held a private event at Sidley Austin LLP that was attended by our pro bono housing clinic volunteers. We discussed housing policies and watched a brief video clip highlighting the human side of the housing crisis. It was an uplifting morning and we came away with more thoughts on how we can help tackle our housing crisis through pro bono contributions. The team suggested ideas like keeping local government accountable when a major development may displace members of our community and calling on more affordable housing opportunities.

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Our evening public event, co-hosted by the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park Residents' Association, was a big success! We had a large group made up of members of the Residents' Association, Law Foundation staff, and other locals who shared what it was like to fight to save their homes and how the Buena Vista story is an inspiration to others who are also trying to stay in our community. Thank you to Katherine Harasz, from the Santa Clara County Housing Authority, for being part of this event and for her important work in our region. We appreciate everyone who attended and shared their stories.

Thanks to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for sponsoring this important event across the Bay Area.

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Advocating for a Different Kind of Family

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Brianna is a former foster youth who knows what it’s like to not have a stable parental figure while growing up. When she ended her relationship with her long-time boyfriend, she knew she didn’t want to end her relationship with his child, Olivia, whom she had cared for and looked after for many years. During her tumultuous relationship, Brianna remained by Olivia’s side. She was essentially the only mother figure Olivia had ever known—taking her to school, scheduling her medical appointments, going to her extracurricular activities, providing for her financially, and doing anything else a parent would do.

Upset over the end of the relationship, Brianna’s ex-boyfriend cut her off from all contact to Olivia. Determined to keep Olivia in her life, Brianna came to us seeking third parent rights; an innovative approach in California that takes into consideration the needs of a child in a modern family. Our attorneys successfully advocated for Brianna in court, which granted her shared custody with Olivia’s biological father. Brianna can now give Olivia the security and stability that she didn’t have, along with all of the love and support any child would be lucky to receive.

Advocating for Stronger Rent Protections

Photo by Ramona Giwargis, Bay Area News Group

Photo by Ramona Giwargis, Bay Area News Group

Earlier this week, the San Jose City Council voted on whether or not to tie rent increases for rent-controlled units to the cost of living, capped at 5%. The Law Foundation, along with partners at the Silicon Valley Renters' Rights Coalition, packed into City Hall to defend past rent and tenant protection victories and urged City Council to vote "yes" on the measure to help stabilize rents for families in San Jose. 

The vote was close, but unfortunately, the City Council did not move forward with a measure to tie rent increases for rent-controlled apartments to the cost of living. However, tenants and community members successfully organized against landlords' attempts to water down San Jose's Apartment Rent Ordinance and Tenant Protection Ordinance, crucial housing protections for over 400,000 tenants in San Jose.

Many thanks to Council Members Sergio Jimenez, Raul Peralez, Don Rocha, Magdalena Carrasco, Tam Nguyen, and Sylvia Arenas for their support. The fight to preserve renter protections in San Jose continues next Spring 2018, when the Apartment Rent Ordinance returns to Council. See you there!  

Learn more about San Jose City Council's vote from The Mercury News.
 

You’re Invited!

Our LACY Honors luncheon is only a few months away and we’d love to have you there. Join more than 300 business, legal, and community leaders and show your support for Legal Advocates for Children & Youth (LACY), a program of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley. LACY supports children facing serious issues like physical and sexual abuse, entry into the foster care system, and homelessness.

The luncheon honors the outstanding contributions of an individual and an organization that are working tirelessly to improve conditions for children in our community. This year, we are pleased to honor Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez as our individual honoree and Fresh Lifelines for Youth as our organization honoree.  

This wonderful event is an important gathering for our community. We hope you can join us!

For more information or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Carrie Chung at carriec@lawfoundation.org

Click here to buy tickets.

 

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Quick Ways You Can Advance Justice Today

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Be sure you like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and add us on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on our work and join our calls for advocacy throughout the year. We're always working to bring you the latest local and national news on the legal issues affecting our community. Spread the word and invite your colleagues and friends to join you!

You can help provide access to justice all year long by becoming a monthly donor. With a regular monthly donation, you're supporting life-changing legal services for thousands of families each year.

Housing Instability Hurts Students

When a family is unsure about where they’ll live in the next few months or faces hurdles in meeting basic needs, children’s health and performance at school can begin to deteriorate. Unstable living conditions and lack of affordable housing options for our community hurts us all. According to the recent Children’s HealthWatch, “…We know children and families in stable, affordable homes arehealthier than those who struggle to afford their basic needs, like rent, food and utilities. Unstable housing is a preventable condition.”

Learn more about how health and education are systematically connected to affordable housing in the latest report from the Children’s HealthWatch.

Supporting a Student’s Bright Future

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After finding himself in a bit of trouble, 17 year-old Miguel began attending the probation-court run school. It wasn’t long before Miguel found himself growing increasingly frustrated. The school was small, the staff was strict, and he had been there most of his junior year of high school. Making matters worse, he had a severe processing disability that made school difficult to understand. Luckily, Miguel and his family found the Law Foundation.

Miguel’s mother started working with one of our attorneys who began reviewing Miguel’s records. A Spanish-speaking social worker from our team planned to attend Miguel’s support team meeting at his school to help interpret for Miguel’s mother. When our social worker arrived to the meeting, she quickly discovered that it was actually an IEP meeting! Taking this surprise in stride, our social worker advocated for Miguel’s wishes: to return to a mainstream high school.

Our attorney and social worker also coordinated meetings at the home and facilitated a meeting between the school district and Miguel’s mother to ensure that everyone understood Miguel’s needs. Together, our team created a goal for Miguel: if he stayed at the probation-court run school and made efforts on his attendance and course work through the last few weeks of the calendar year, he could return to his regular local high school the following month.

Through the support of our attorney and social worker, Miguel successfully transitioned to his local high school in the New Year. The following few months were met with good news; the principal at Miguel’s new school informed our team that he actually had enough credits to graduate at the end of the school year, with the rest of his classmates.

Overjoyed, Miguel’s mother invited our attorney and social worker to his graduation for their part in helping Miguel reach this important milestone. Without our advocacy for the proper educational environment to support Miguel, he might not have had his needs met under the law and may have grown too frustrated to finish school. Earlier this summer, our team loudly cheered Miguel on as he walked across the stage, beaming with pride to accept his diploma.

Tips for Effective Special Education Advocacy

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A student struggling in school may be entitled to an Individualized Educational Plan, or IEP, a legal document that creates goals and structural school support for a student with special needs.

The law is complex and difficult to navigate so parents and guardians may find themselves confused or unfamiliar with the legal process that goes into creating an IEP. To help, here are our top 3 tips for effective special education advocacy from Law Foundation attorney Julia Souza.

1.       Put all requests to the school/school district in writing. It’s best to have regular communication with your child’s teacher and school. However, it’s important that your requests, especially for additional special education services or testing, be put in writing. Keep copies of all letters or emails that you have sent.

2.      Bring a friend or family member to IEP meetings. Think of it like a complicated doctor’s appointment. Schools use a lot of technical language, and they sometimes move quickly. The meetings can be more exhausting than you might think, and it helps to have someone else remember everything that was said.

3.      Call an education attorney for help. If your school district is not meeting your student’s needs, and you need more support, call an education attorney.

*The tips above are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.

Kyra Kazantzis Recognized for her Law Foundation Service

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After 25 years of working with our team to advance justice, Directing Attorney Kyra Kazantzis has moved on from the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley. Last month, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors honored Kyra for her extraordinary leadership and service.

Kyra has been a leading force in building our organization’s reputation and success. She has led our team to countless legal and policy wins that have advanced the rights of low income client communities in our region and beyond, including last year’s life-changing victory that kept 400 mostly Latino and low-income residents in their homes at Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto. We’re grateful for her endless commitment to our community and all of us at the Law Foundation wish her the very best on her next endeavor.  

Save the date!

We hope you can join us for this year’s LACY Honors luncheon to benefit the Law Foundation’s Legal Advocates for Children & Youth program which supports children and youth facing serious issues like physical and sexual abuse, entry into the foster care system and homelessness.

Our luncheon will take place on Friday, Nov. 3, at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Palo Alto.

Your Voice Can Protect Our Healthcare

What happens when seniors who worked their entire lives are suddenly unable to afford healthcare? What kind of future do we create when children aren’t able to get the medical care they need because they were born with a disability? How do we support individuals who want and need substance abuse counseling or mental health services when the funding for those services is no longer available?

These are the questions we all face as GOP Senators continue to push for repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Though the Better Care Reconciliation Act is off the table due in large part to advocacy from people like you, we still need to make sure to keep up the pressure so that the ACA is properly funded and continues to provide access to affordable health care for millions of Americans.

You can help put an end to harmful healthcare cuts that will devastate our community members who would otherwise have no access to healthcare.

1.  Take a few minutes out of your day to call your Senator at (202) 224-3121. You can share a personal story of a time when you used the healthcare system under the Affordable Care Act or simply urge them to oppose any cuts to Medicaid.

2.  Encourage your colleagues, friends, or family in other states to contact their Senators as well.

3.  Challenge your network to take action and share these three action items across social media with the hashtag #ProtectOurCare. 

Three Easy Ways to Support the Law Foundation Right Now

1. Do you purchase items on Amazon? If so, you can sign up with Amazon Smile to make Law Foundation of Silicon Valley your charity of choice. We’ll receive a percentage of all eligible purchases. Visit www.amazon.com/smile for more information and sign up now to shop for good.

2. Have you liked us on Facebook or followed us on Twitter yet? We’re always working to bring you the latest local and national news on the legal issues affecting our community. Be sure to “like” us and share with your colleagues and friends!


3. Did you know that you can help provide access to justice all year long by becoming a monthly donor? With a small monthly donation, you’re supporting free life-changing legal services for thousands of families each year.

Fighting for Education

When Marcos* was admitted to the hospital with a life-threatening medical condition, all he could think about was school. Always an ambitious student, Marcos didn’t want to let his disability get in the way of his future. His mother urged his school repeatedly to provide Marcos with work to do at home, and his treating physician even got involved, providing medical documentation that explained why he couldn’t attend school.

Despite having a strong team advocating for Marcos, the school district failed to provide any work for him to keep up with his studies, did not arrange for a teacher to visit Marcos at home, and didn’t communicate with the family about its plans for Marcos.

With only a few months left until the end of the school year, Marcos’ doctor referred his mother to the Law Foundation and Valley Medical Center’s Medical Legal Partnership program. Marcos’ Law Foundation attorney submitted a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Education that is currently under review. Within a week of our attorney taking the case, Marcos was visited by a teacher and received the schoolwork he needed to start getting up to speed.

Sometimes all our clients need is for the world to know that we’re in their corner fighting on their behalf.

*Name changed to protect identity

Ensuring Just Treatment for Immigrant Children

Photo by The Atlantic

Photo by The Atlantic

Earlier this summer, the Law Foundation was part of a legal team that obtained a positive federal appeals court ruling determining that undocumented immigrant children detained by federal authorities must be given adequate living conditions, including access to clean water, proper heating and cooling, and appropriate sleeping conditions. Co-counsel on the case included the Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, and La Raza Centro Legal.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled that immigration authorities must abide by the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, named for a teenage girl who brought the original case, that established standards for the detention, release, and treatment of minors in immigration custody.

Law Foundation attorney, Kate Manning, an expert on child welfare, argued for improved conditions on behalf of some of the children who were in detention and served as the Law Foundation’s lead on this case. The Law Foundation is thankful to its partners and is proud to have worked together to ensure that immigrant children across the country are treated with dignity and justice under the law.

Pro Bono Spotlight: A Little Help Goes A Long Way

When 8-year-old Charlie Taylor* began experiencing seizures as a result of mold and dust mites in his family’s apartment, Charlie’s doctor recommended the family clean the mold and replace the carpet with wood flooring. The family informed their landlord of Charlie’s illness and requested the repairs be made. Instead, the landlord refused and suggested the family move to another unit where the rent is higher. That’s when the Taylor family came to the Law Foundation and was matched with volunteer attorneys from Hogan Lovells, who quickly came to their rescue.

The Hogan Lovells team assigned to the case sent a letter to the landlord on the Taylor family’s behalf, requesting that he have the mold in the unit professionally cleaned and the carpet replaced with wood flooring. The landlord promptly agreed and then worked with our volunteers to make the necessary repairs and improve conditions in the apartment. 

Sean Mahsoul, an attorney at Hogan Lovells, shared the following about his experience:

“This case meant a great to deal to me especially given that the health of a child was at stake. We ended up achieving a positive result for our client that helped improve the health of his son and the livelihood of his family. It made me appreciate the impact that I can make as an attorney by using my legal skills to advocate for those who may not be able to advocate for themselves. I was especially happy that we were able to achieve a positive result without having to escalate the situation.”

*Name changed to protect identity

A Hard-Fought Five Years Brings a Huge Victory

For five years, more than 400 residents of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, Palo Alto’s last mobile home park, fought to preserve their homes after the park owners announced their intention to sell the property to a developer. 

Earlier this month, a deal was reached that will preserve the park as affordable housing.

Buena Vista families will continue to enjoy their diverse and tight-knit community and benefit from living in a high opportunity area of Silicon Valley, one that has high-quality Palo Alto schools, safe neighborhoods, jobs, and healthcare. 

We thank the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County and its Executive Director Katherine Harasz, who, together with Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, worked to ensure that Buena Vista will be preserved--and renovated-- and operated on a day-to-day basis by The Caritas Corporation, a nonprofit with a mission of maintaining quality affordable housing.

We worked in partnership with our tireless and courageous clients, the Buena Vista residents' association, and many other community advocates and supporters, including:  the Friends of Buena Vista, a dedicated group of Palo Altans, led by Winter Dellenbach; the Palo Alto School Board; the Palo Alto and regional PTAs, led by Susan Eldredge and Nancy Krop; the Community Working Group; Stanford professors and students, led by Education Professor Amado Padilla; Larry Klein; and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and his staff members Micaela Hellman-Tincher and Kristina Loquist. 

Photo by Eric Kuhri, Bay Area News Group

Photo by Eric Kuhri, Bay Area News Group

The Law Foundation's Buena Vista preservation team included senior attorneys Nadia Aziz and Diana Castillo, senior outreach coordinators Teresa Magana and Nuemi Guzman, supervising attorney Melissa Morris, former supervising attorney James Zahradka, and directing attorney Kyra Kazantzis.  The team was supported by expert co-counsel Madeline Howard, Navneet Grewal, Sue Himmelreich, and Dick Rothschild at the Western Center on Law & Poverty. The law firm of Sidley Austin LLP provided generous pro bono staffing and financial resources for the litigation effort; Matt Dolan and Norm Blears were the key, hard-working members of the Sidley team.

You're Supporting A National Award Winning Program

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We're proud to announce that the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership honored the Law Foundation's Silicon Valley Medical Legal Partnership as a 2017 Outstanding Medical Legal Partnership (MLP) Award recipient at the annual MLP Summit last month in Washington, D.C.

Our medical-legal partnership with Santa Clara Valley Medical Center connects patients in VMC's pediatrics department and Homeless Healthcare Program with Law Foundation attorneys who are onsite at multiple VMC clinic sites each week to help with underlying legal problems to various medical issues.

We're grateful to the National Center for Medical Legal Partnership for this wonderful honor and to Valley Medical Center for supporting our work.