Current Initiatives Under Way at Legal Aid Justice Center
Drive Down the Debt
In Virginia, when an individual is assessed court costs and fines, he/she has 30 days to pay in full or establish a payment plan with their local court. A debtor who fails to comply loses his/her driver’s license, seriously compromising their ability to maintain and secure employment. This consequence hurts low-income families. Our goal is to increase the amount of court costs/fees collected by Virginia courts by reducing the systemic barriers to paying those costs/fees.
RISE for Youth
Virginia’s use of large juvenile prisons places the safety and security of our communities and our young people at risk, but we have the opportunity to put youth back on track – not just behind bars. The Re-invest in Supportive Environments (RISE) for Youth campaign is a bipartisan coalition effort to develop a continuum of community-based alternatives to incarceration that will keep juvenile justice system involved youth in their homes and connected to their support networks while making our communities safer.
Educate Every Child
The Educate Every Child Campaign promotes school discipline practices and policies that keep Virginia children in school and decrease the likelihood that they will dropout and enter the justice system. The campaign is supported by the Educate Every Child Coalition, a group of interested stakeholders, including parents, teachers, counselors and advocates who support constructive alternatives to suspension and expulsion.
Unaccompanied Minor Refugees
Gang violence in Central America has become so pervasive that tens of thousands of children have risked their lives in the last year to travel, alone, to the United States seeking refuge. Typically, these children are apprehended in Texas after crossing the border. They are then connected to family or other sponsors who agree to care for the children and ensure that they show up in immigration court where a determination can be made of whether to allow them to stay or deport them. Legal Aid Justice Center, along with a cadre of other legal aid providers, is mobilizing to connect these children to attorneys who can help them to demonstrate to the court system that they ought to be allowed to stay. Without our assistance, these children would face a judge in a potentially life or death deportation hearing, alone.
Health Insurance Assistance
A lack of health insurance can be devastating to a family’s health and to their economic security. Thankfully the Affordable Care Act puts health insurance within reach for thousands of Virginians. With state and federal funding through the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Legal Aid Justice Center employs a team of Navigators, In Person Assisters, and Outreach Specialists who will focus on helping as many people as possible to access insurance through the ACA Exchange. Please click here to access this service.