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 increase access to quality legal counsel for young people involved in the foster care system.

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.

Defending Our Children: A Child’s Access to Justice in Washington State is a 2016 Status Report published by The Access to Counsel Project. This report combines first person accounts by former foster youth with data from a comprehensive court observation study in Snohomish, King and Pierce county dependency courts, a statewide county-by-county survey of appointment policies, and real life anecdotes of successful attorney advocacy to demonstrate the significant, positive impact the appointment of an attorney can have in a child’s life. The lesson of this report is clear: children in Washington’s foster care system deserve better and will benefit greatly from the universal appointment of an attorney.

Read the Full Report

Defending Our Children is a follow up to a 2015 Court Observation 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.

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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