Children and Youth Advocacy Clinic

Clinic Projects

The Court Improvement Training Academy

Director: Robert Wyman

The Court Improvement Training Academy (CITA) is a program designed to create a learning community comprised of judges, lawyers, and other professionals involved in the juvenile court dependency process. CITA is funded by a grant of federal Court Improvement Program money administered by the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts. CITA learning opportunities are centered around a philosophy which blends innovative interdisciplinary research and practical solutions to everyday problems faced in child welfare law.

The Access to Counsel Project

Attorney Contact: Alicia LeVezu, Equal Justice Works Fellow Sponsored by Intellectual Ventures and Perkins Coie, LLP

(206) 685-8680

The Access to Counsel Project seeks to connect young people involved in the foster care system with legal counsel.

When a child is removed from home due to abuse or neglect, decisions about where she will live, the services she will receive, and the family relationships she can maintain are determined by judges in a courtroom. In this situation, an attorney can advocate for the desires of a child, whether those desires are to remain with her parents, to maintain sibling contact, or to receive services for her educational and mental health needs.

The Access to Counsel Project recently conducted an observation of dependency courts in Pierce, King and Snohomish Counties which found that children are often without any advocate at all. Download the full report.

If you know a child or youth in foster care that you think could benefit from the assistance of an attorney, the Access to Counsel Project exists to help them.

Washington State Law (RCW 13.34.100(7)(a)) gives the following people the right to request an attorney for a child in a dependency action:

  • children
  • biological parents
  • caregivers
  • guardian ad litems (including CASAs)
  • the department (DSHS)

Additionally, everyone has the right to refer a youth to an attorney or to retain an attorney on behalf of the youth in order to make this request.

The Access to Counsel Project can help children and youth request a publicly funded attorney. While we cannot ensure that a child will get an attorney, we can help a young person request an attorney from the court in a legally compelling way. We may also be able to assist parent’s attorneys, CASAs, and foster parents request attorneys for children, based on the circumstances of each case. Thanks in part to the generous funding from Intellectual Ventures and Perkins Coie, LLP, this service is provided for free.

Please direct any questions or referrals to: Alicia LeVezu, Equal Justice Works Fellow Sponsored: (206) 685-8680.

If you are an attorney interested in presenting a Motion to Appoint counsel on a dependency case, download the template motion.

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