Legal Assistance

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JustChildren provides free civil legal representation to low-income children statewide who have unmet needs in the education, foster care, and juvenile justice systems. While our clients have a wide variety of needs, in each case our primary objective is to protect our clients’ rights to live and thrive safely in their communities and in their schools.

Contact with individual clients is also how we stay informed about what is happening in classrooms, on playgrounds, and in juvenile courts. It helps us stays connected to the real world and holds us accountable to our clients.

We have successfully protected and advanced the rights of children and families in the following kinds of cases:

Special Education
We can help make sure students with disabilities are identified, evaluated, and served in the least restrictive environment in which they can learn.

School Discipline
We can advocate for the re-enrollment of students who have been suspended, expelled, or placed in an alternative education program.

Court Involvement
We can advocate for improved educational and mental health services for youth who are at risk of detention or commitment due to the unavailability of inadequacy of these services. (We do not handle delinquency cases, but we are available for referrals from courts, probation officers, or other attorneys and can accept Guardian ad litem appointments in the appropriate circumstances.)

Truancy
We can represent students who have been referred to juvenile court for truancy (also known as “child-in-need-of-supervision”).

Enrollment or Re-enrollment
We can assist any student having difficulty enrolling in school, including immigrant, foster, and homeless youth, as well as young offenders returning to the community from incarceration.

Juvenile Justice
We can meet with clients inside juvenile correctional facilities and protect their rights to be safe, to receive treatment, and to have access to meaningful educational opportunities.

Juvenile Reentry
We can assist youth with legal issues involving their anticipated return to the community after incarceration, including reenrollment, access to mental health and other services, and representation at serious offender review hearings.

Publications

  • Helping You Help Your Child: A Focus on Education (2011)
    This handbook for parents covers tips for successful self-advocacy, as well as plain language guidance on complicated areas of education law such as special education, enrollment, student discipline, access to ESL services, and more.
  • Ayudandole a Ayudar a Su Hijo: En Enfoque en Educacion (2011)
    Esta guía para padres de familia incluye información que les ayudará a abogar directamente para sus hijos, tanto como orientaciones sobre áreas complicadas de la ley educativa, como la educación especial, la inscripción a la escuela, la disciplina estudiantil, el acceso a servicios de ‘inglés como segunda idioma,’ y más.
  • Education Law & Advocacy Manual
    Now in its 5
    th edition, this manual was written for lawyers representing students and parents in education cases in Virginia. Please contact angela@justice4all.org to purchase a copy.
  • Juvenile Collateral Consequences in the State of Virginia (2010)
    JustChildren authored the Virginia section of the American Bar Association’s Juvenile Collateral Consequences Project, Think Before You Plead.
  • A Parent’s Guide to Juvenile Transfer in Virginia (2007)
    In Virginia, a child as young as 14 charged with certain serious felonies may be prosecuted in the adult courts. This is called juvenile transfer. Transfer brings a different set of rights, restrictions, and procedures than in the juvenile system. This guide aims to assist parents in this stressful and complicated process. You are your child’s best advocate. We hope to answer your questions and help you take control of the process for your child. You can be an effective advocate by using the information in the Guide.
  • Juvenile Rights Handbook (2006)
    Developed by the Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference and JustChildren, this Handbook provides a helpful guide to the laws that most impact Virginia’s youth. Young people can find information about their rights to an education and their rights in school, when interacting with the police, and in the Virginia juvenile justice system in this Handbook.

Resources

  • Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC)
    Education and training for families, schools, and professionals committed to helping children with disabilities. This website contains information for parents and guardians about special education services.
  • Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)
    Dedicated to ensuring a high quality education for all students with disabilities. The COPAA website offers information on how to find an attorney or advocate in Virginia and across the United States.
  • Wrightslaw
    Provides a compilation of cases and articles regarding education and special education law. The website also includes useful resources to assist those who advocate for children with disabilities.