Law Foundation of Silicon Valley Applauds Court's Decision to Uphold Flores Settlement Agreement

(SAN JOSE, Calif.) – The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley today issued the following statement from CEO Alison Brunner applauding the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee to uphold the Flores Settlement Agreement and protect the rights of immigrant children and their families.

“As co-counsel in the Flores litigation, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley applauds the decision by Judge Gee to uphold the settlement agreement and deny the Trump administration’s request to detain children and families in unlicensed facilities for the duration of their immigration proceedings, which in most cases will be years.

“Our work with immigrant children gives us an important perspective into the current family separation crisis at the border, and we share the outrage of many in our community about immigration policies that separate children from their families or place them in detention facilities.

 “As outlined in the Flores Settlement Agreement children should be treated with ‘dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.’

 “The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley will continue to fight for the release of immigrant children and families into the community where they can seek protection of their rights.”

Law Foundation Responds to Family Detention

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Law Foundation Co-Counsel in Flores Class Action Litigation

On Friday evening, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and co-counsel asked the federal court to uphold the terms of the 20 year-old Flores class action settlement and deny the Administration’s request to detain families in unlicensed facilities for the duration of their immigration proceedings, which in most cases will be years. The ACLU and the cities of New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco all filed amicus briefs in support of our efforts.

As co-counsel in the Flores litigation, the Law Foundation is a leading legal voice for the rights of immigrant families and children. Our work with immigrant children, gives us an important perspective into the current family separation crisis at our border. We share the outrage of many in our community about current immigration policies that separate children from their families or place them in detention facilities and we are currently fighting this injustice through litigation.

As outlined in the Flores settlement agreement, children should be treated with “dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.” As legal advocates for children for over 30 years, we recognize the detrimental impact on children of being separated from their families, especially in the context of an already traumatic situation such as transnational migration. Imprisoning children in unlicensed family detention for an indefinite period of time is not the answer and it is in violation of the law. The Law Foundation is fighting for the release of immigrant children and families into the community where they can seek protection of their rights.

A team of our attorneys, paralegals, and social workers will be traveling to speak with children who are being held in detention facilities in upcoming weeks to ensure that their voices are heard and their rights are protected. We will also continue to provide free and confidential legal and social work services to immigrant youth in Santa Clara County, including children who have been forcibly separated and are in dire need of services and mental health support until they can safely reunify with family. We will keep you updated on this important work.

The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley advances the rights of underrepresented families and children, specifically in the areas of children’s rights, housing advocacy, and access to mental health services. To support the work of the Law Foundation, click here.

Thank you for standing with us in justice for all.

Thank You!

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Everyone should be part of the Silicon Valley success story --- and you're making that happen. Thank you for another amazing Celebration of Justice! You're changing lives and ensuring a stronger, more inclusive future for our entire community.

What you do matters. Last night, we began the evening with a short 2-minute video to show just how each individual action can truly make a difference. Missed it? It's worth a quick watch.
Thank you for answering the call and giving generously at our Celebration of Justice. If you didn't get the chance to make a gift last night, it's not too late! You can still make a tax-deductible contribution in support of access to justice. 

Thanks again for making our night and, most of all, for your inspiring generosity! 

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Helping More Families Through Pro Bono

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When a young child faced the possibility of losing the only real home he'd ever known, our pro bono volunteer Yilan Bryant, from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP stepped in with help and expertise from Law Foundation attorneys.

Daniel* lived a happy and secure life with his grandmother, Charlotte*, who began taking care of him when his biological parents became absent while he was an infant. However, Daniel's safe and peaceful life was jeopardized when his biological parents, whose lives were still not very stable, threatened to take Daniel away from his home. Fearing losing her grandson to an unstable living situation and overwhelmed with the complicated legal process of guardianship, Charlotte turned to the Law Foundation.

Thanks to our team and pro bono attorney, Yilan, Daniel's grandmother was able to navigate a complicated legal system to ensure that Daniel's best interests were protected.
"It was immensely gratifying to help my client navigate the legal process and paperwork and ultimately get to a result that was in the best interest of the child. My client was able to secure guardianship of her grandson, receiving both temporary and general guardianship for the child. To help my client receive legal assurance that her grandchild will grow up in the security and comfort of her care gave me a great deal of satisfaction, both personally and professionally.  I look forward to handling additional family law matters." says Yilan, who succeeded in safeguarding Daniel's stable home life with his grandmother. 

We're grateful for our pro bono volunteers who allow us to serve even more families and individuals each year.

*Name changed to protect identity.

San Jose's New Google Development Advisory Group

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Recently, the Law Foundation, along with 38 other organizations, was appointed to the newly created Station Area Advisory Group (SAAG) formed by San Jose City Council to provide input on the Google development project near the Diridon Station. The SAAG has representation from various parts of our community, including the business sector, school districts, neighborhood associations, and community groups.

The Law Foundation hopes our participation will lead to outcomes that prevent the displacement of low-income communities in San Jose from the place they call home. We will continue to be a leader in advocating for an inclusive Silicon Valley and to bring front and center the crisis of unmanaged gentrification and the displacement of low-income families in Silicon Valley.

In Case You Missed It

It's here! Law Foundation Supervising Attorney, Nadia Aziz, and Buena Vista Resident Association member, Maria Martinez, spoke to Silicon Valley Community Foundation Program Officer Vu-Bang Nguyen a few months ago about what it was like to save a small, low-income community in Palo Alto and what other communities can learn from the experience.

Click here to listen to SVCF Philanthropy Now's episode on Buena Vista Mobile Home Park. 

School Walkouts & Student Rights

Protests in schools are taking place across the country as students participate in national gun-violence walkouts.  Many districts and schools are tolerating, if not encouraging, student participation in the walkouts to draw attention to gun violence prevention. It's important that youth know their rights to freedom of speech or expression, especially when at school.

For more information on student rights, click here.

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Your 2017 Year-End Recommendations

Stay informed about the social issues that shape our community! Read, watch, listen!  

Here are a few podcasts, books, articles, and documentaries recommended by Law Foundation staff, board, and volunteers. These recommendations give more background into the issues many of our clients face and highlight why our work is critical in creating a stronger, more inclusive Silicon Valley.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

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Why it Matters: An eviction can be the beginning of a downward spiral into deep poverty for many families across our country, particularly for low-income families of color. Matthew Desmond's Evicted captures the stories of tenants and landlords and breaks downs the impact housing policy has had on the changing landscape of American cities.

Recommended by Law Foundation Board & Staff
Last month, a few of our staff members along with members from our Board had the pleasure of seeing Matthew Desmond speak about his book and his cross-country research at Stanford. We were not only moved by the stories he shared but even more motivated to continue to strengthen our housing work and further protections for renters in our region to ensure that more families are protected against unlawful evictions. 

Read the New York Times Review

Equality vs Equity - Illustrated by Angus Maquire

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Why It Matters: Equality and equity are often used interchangeably when talking about fairness, but there's a significant difference between the two. If we want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be part of the Silicon Valley success story, we need to first understand that not everyone starts off on an even playing field. 

Recommended by Anuja Kumaria, Law Foundation Senior Attorney  
"With the Law Foundation committed to ensuring race equity in our work, it's important for me to visually understand what that means and why it is different than equality. This image was the turning point for me to realize why we must strive for equity and how the direct services work we do should also be guided by these principles. While we work to break down the systemic barriers, like the fence, we must direct more resources and attention to those who are most deeply affected by factors outside their control." 

Download the image here from the Interaction Institute for Social Change (.zip package containing JPGs, PDF, PNG, and AI)

Season One of The Uncertain Hour

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Why It Matters: Some people know it as welfare or TANF, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, but what is it exactly and who does it help? Season One of The Uncertain Hour podcast takes a deep dive into the evolving sentiments and policies that have shaped welfare or cash assistance to poor families in the U.S. while busting longstanding myths and uncovering surprising backstories. 
 

Recommended by Becky Moskowitz, Law Foundation Senior Attorney
"As a long-time benefits advocate, I learned many things I did not know about what shaped policy decisions that impact the lives of many families with children."

Listen to Season One of The Uncertain Hour Here

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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Why it Matters: "The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice." Author Bryan Stevenson has come to this conclusion after experiencing racial inequities as a young black man in the deep South and working as a leading human rights lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. His beautifully written memoir, Just Mercy, courageously confronts the ugly truths of our country's history and challenges all of us to do the same to truly change the course of our nation's justice system.


Recommended by Law Foundation Board Member, Alexis Coll-Very---Partner, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
"Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy persuasively demonstrates how race and wealth have distorted what justice looks like in America. The book has provided both inspiration and greater context for the work I do as a Law Foundation board member and pro bono volunteer. Few books have influenced my perspective on American society as much as Stevenson's. This is truly a must read." 

 Read the New York Times Review

More Perfect - A Radiolab Podcast

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Why It Matters:  Brown v. Board of Education, Loving v. Virginia, Roe v. Wade-we all know the major Supreme Court decisions that have changed the fabric of our society but there are many lesser-known cases that have made just as much of an impact on our civil liberties and daily lives. More Perfect from Radiolab is a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most important Supreme Court cases, spanning from the beginnings of the Court to now. The actual arguments at the Court are only one small part of the podcast, which sets forth the backstory, interviewing people involved or their descendants, and exploring how these monumental cases have shaped life in America.  

Recommended by Law Foundation Board Member, Rick Frenkel---Partner, Latham & Watkins, LLP
"The Supreme Court has the power to change American life as we know it with a single case. And these decisions have long-lasting impact. More Perfect from Radiolab brings a complete picture to these decisions, especially the human and cultural impacts they have in the communities we live in today. I have found this podcast to be a conversation starter, especially as it relates to some of the social justice and systemic change work that the Law Foundation is focused on."

Listen to More Perfect Here

Spent: Looking For Change - A Documentary

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Why It Matters: Many middle and low-income Americans have few options when faced with a major necessary expense. According to a 2017 GOBankingRates survey, more than half of Americans (57 percent) have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts. Spent: Looking for Change is a documentary that sheds light on the predatory lending industry and reveals how an unanticipated expense like a medical emergency, lay-off from work, or a breakdown in transportation can create a life-altering payday loan debt trap that can devastate whole communities.     

The Law Foundation has been a part of the Coalition Against Payday Predators (CAPP) since 2009, a collaboration of community-based organizations working to limit the predatory financial practices of payday lenders in Santa Clara County. Thanks to our efforts, in 2012 the city of San José passed the strongest anti-payday lending zoning ordinance of any large city in the country. Soon after, the cities of Sunnyvale, Gilroy, and Morgan Hill passed similar anti-payday lending ordinances alongside Los Altos and Santa Clara County. 

Recommended by Nuemi Guzman, Law Foundation Advocate  
"Spent shows how in a time where money is short and options are limited, it's easy to fall into the trap of payday and title loans. As an advocate against predatory lending, Spent has helped me understand the financial constraints that many people in our community face and what we can all do to help end the debt trap." 

Watch The Full Documentary Here

Selection of Children's Books

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Why It Matters: To create a stronger, more inclusive future for all of us, we must invest our time and energy in the children and youth of our communities, especially to combat hate and intolerance. Prejudice and biases are often embedded from a young age, but we can counter harmful frames of mind about people who are different from us through education. Stories written specifically for a younger age group will help to build up the next generation of compassionate adults and social activists. 

The books range in topics from race to bullying and gay parenting to poverty. They all provide lessons on the importance of diversity, kindness, and perseverance.

  • We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song ---   Debbie Levy
  • Red: A Crayon's Story ---  Michael Hall
  • And Tango Makes Three ---  Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
  • I am Rosa Parks and I am Martin Luther King Jr.---   Brad Melzer 
  • The Other Side ---  Jacqueline Woodsen
  • The Last Stop on Market Street ---   Matt De la Pena
  • The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade ---  Justin Roberts

Recommended by Law Foundation Senior Attorney, Molly Brennan

"I chose these books because, as a mom to 3 young kids, one of the most important things I can teach them is to see the beauty in their differences. And, just as important, to see the beauty in everyone else's differences, whether it is skin color, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. It is never too early to talk about the things that make us different, particularly skin color, since it is often the first thing kids notice. Our children aren't colorblind or able-body blind, and my hope is that by using these books to introduce our children to these topics, we might be able to prevent so many of the implicit biases we all have from our life's experiences from being passed on to our children." 

Restorative Justice in Oakland - A Mini-Doc

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Why It Matters: When all students, regardless of their circumstances, have access to an adequate education and an equal opportunity to succeed, our entire society prospers. However, the quality of education that a child receives is often out of their control-unless parents and guardians know their rights. Law Foundation attorneys help parents navigate the education system and understand their options under the law when their student is not receiving an appropriate education while also advocating for restorative justice practices that allow children the opportunity to be held accountable for their actions without harming their future potential for success.

The Restorative Justice in Oakland mini documentary offers an inside-look into the education system in the Bay Area and demonstrates how restorative justice can transform the way we think about school discipline. Though the video is a few years old, the message is still timely to the work we do today in Silicon Valley.  

Recommended by Law Foundation Senior Attorney Julia Souza
"This short video is a great description of the positive impacts restorative justice can have on youth, especially low income youth of color. A comprehensive restorative justice program can reduce teacher turnover, improve test scores, and drastically reduce suspensions and expulsions. Because low income youth of color are suspended and expelled at much higher rates than their white peers, restorative justice is key to reducing education inequality. That's why Law Foundation attorneys who defend students in school discipline hearings advocate for restorative justice practices at every opportunity."

Watch Restorative Justice in Oakland Here

Rookie Podcast - The Roadmap for Liberation with Janet Mock

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Why It Matters: Representation, in its most basic form, is having the stories we live presented in the world around us. For far too long, representation in media, pop culture, politics, and just about any other industry has lacked diversity and inclusion. Women, people of color, gender non-confirming individuals, and LGBTQ community members don't often see their stories and life experiences told. When we don't know or understand people who are different than us, we are also blind to the injustices they face. As part of our inclusion work, our Medical Legal Partnership team helps transgendered clients change their legal documents to match their identity, a small but important and life-changing service.

The Rookie Podcast is a spinoff of Rookie Magazine, a publication created by and made for teenagers. The Roadmap for Liberation episode begins with a short lesson in active listening, a critical skill in today's divisive political climate, which sets the foundation for Janet Mock's enlightening interview that dives into her life as a transgendered woman, activist, and cultural icon. 

Recommended by Law Foundation Development Coordinator, Monica Rodriguez
"As a child, I was acutely aware of not seeing anyone that looked like me on TV. I internalized the lack of representation as a shortcoming on my end---I wanted to be different. There are transgendered and non-confirming children and teens who might be feeling the same sense of loneliness that I once felt and who may not know an adult that has gone through a similar experience or have someone to look up to. This episode is a thoughtful piece on acceptance and courage; I hope it gives someone struggling with issues of identity a stronger sense of belonging." 

Listen to Rookie Here

You're Invited: Celebration of Justice

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

Click here to get your ticket today and join us in creating a stronger, more inclusive Silicon Valley! 

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.