HOLISTIC LEGAL ADVOCACY
Legal Counsel for Youth and Children utilizes a multidisciplinary approach in providing high quality, holistic advocacy to youth and children in King County. LCYC's legal advocacy is directed by the youth and children we serve. We gather and share information with each child at the appropriate developmental level and help them to understand their legal options and the potential consequences of each choice. LCYC works to ensure the protection of each child’s unique legal rights, to aid each child in her understanding of complicated and often frightening legal processes, and to help each child communicate her interests to the court
LCYC Staff Attorneys team with one another and with Child Advocacy Specialists to help assess and ensure each child's well-being while moving cases forward towards a positive outcome. LCYC connects with service providers, families, Tribes, and schools.
When we represent a child in an open juvenile court matter, we make a commitment to engage in the child's educational planning and goals, and to address other legal issues that may arise, such as immigration relief. LCYC recognizes that a child's goals and challenges cannot be compartmentalized into separate boxes or silos, but must be viewed and served as a whole.
To learn more about the types of issues we address in and out of court, and our engagement with youth in the legal process, please read LCYC's 2015 Impact Report. The 2015 Impact Report reviews children's placement and permanency in relation to when they received the benefit of legal counsel during their case. The 2015 Impact Report also assesses the types of issues LCYC attorneys are addressing on behalf of our young clients. For example, our 2015 data revealed that:
- The vast majority of all open cases require out-of-court legal advocacy in the areas of placement, family visits, education and services for the child.
- 42% of the motions filed by LCYC on behalf of children in open child welfare cases related directly to placement. 27% of the motions involved family visitation.
FUNDING NEEDS - beyond public defense
King County Department of Public Defense pays LCYC an hourly wage of $45 for work on child welfare cases and $50 an hour for juvenile offender matters. While this compensation currently composes the majority of LCYC's budget, it falls short of covering all necessary expenses. For example, public funds from King County do not cover:
- Time spent providing educational advocacy to youth involved in juvenile offender matters
- Time spent on motions for counsel on behalf of children not yet represented in foster care
- Time spent filing dependency petitions as a necessary step for a youth seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
- Time spent at administrative hearings for school discipline on behalf of children involved in the child welfare or juvenile offender systems
- Time spent providing legal advocacy to homeless youth and young adults
- Time spent collecting, analyzing and reporting on data
- Supervision, administration and operating expenses
- Broader advocacy efforts to impact and improve standards of practice, policies, and legislation affecting children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems