proactive legal advocacy
Attorneys for children play an instrumental role in preserving families, supporting caregivers, protecting children's rights, and in ensuring that services are provided to children and families so the legislature's goal for a safe reunification, whenever possible, can occur in a timely manner.
Washington is one of few states in the country that fails to provide legal counsel for every child in the child welfare system, children who face removal from their home, separation from siblings and extended family, and ultimately, the legal termination of their parent-child relationship.
Some counties in Washington maintain a policy in which children at the age of twelve years, eight years, or children of all ages, are appointed counsel. Several counties rarely appoint counsel for children at any age. The stark contrast in access to counsel for children in foster care throughout Washington has been described as justice by geography. LCYC continues to collaborate with other nonprofit organizations and advocates to improve the quality of and access to counsel for our most vulnerable children.
Each year, LCYC provides direct representation to roughly 200 children in child welfare cases in King County, ranging in age from toddlers to 21 years.
LCYC provides proactive advocacy around issues like placement, family visitation, permanency planning, education, medical and mental health services. LCYC’s caseloads are less than half of a standard public defender. This lower caseload improves our ability to engage directly with children and families, proactively identifying and responding to needs, while moving forward towards permanency. LCYC attorneys also have support from supervisors and ongoing training and professional development opportunities.
LCYC's high level of engagement, strong community partnerships, and holistic approach empowers youth and helps to decrease the number of youth exiting the child welfare system into homelessness.