We provide legal services to youth and families and advocate for changes that keep young people with their families, in school, out of the criminal legal system, and protected from discrimination.
We envision a Virginia where all young people have access to high-quality public education, strong community supports, mental health services, and a truly restorative youth justice system.
We partner with youth, their families, and their communities to achieve racial, social, and economic justice for all young people by dismantling systems that create and perpetuate poverty.
Ensuring that Virginia youth have access to high-quality, equitable, and culturally affirming and safe school environments.
We fight to ensure every young person in Virginia has access to high-quality, equitable, culturally affirming, safe environments by removing barriers that lead to exclusion and disengagement from school. We want young people to attend schools where they won’t be criminalized, where youth and their families will be communicated within the language they prefer, and where their culture and identities will be valued.
This includes helping families with children in grades P-12 navigate expulsion, school suspension, and school enrollment, as well as language access and cultural competency issues in their schools. We advocate against policing in schools and in favor of school discipline practices that are restorative and/or transformative, and that can help improve student behavior issues permanently with compassion and without criminalizing or excluding anyone. We also engage in broad organizing, and policy work to create better conditions for all youth in Virginia’s schools.
We have also compiled some helpful resources on important education access issues:
Making sure students with disabilities receive high-quality public education.
We work with families to ensure that children with disabilities receive the services and accommodations they need and are legally entitled to in school, and to empower families and young people to figure out and meet their educational and emotional needs. We also seek to end policies and practices that perpetuate systemic inequities in Virginia’s special education system and improve the system for all young people with disabilities.
We have also compiled several resources for families navigating the special education system in Virginia, which you can see by clicking the link below.
Our young people deserve to grow up free, and mistakes they make in youth shouldn’t come with consequences that can stick with them for the rest of their lives. We work toward abolishing the incarceration of youth and the criminalization of youthful behavior by eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline, reducing the harm of youth contact with legal systems, and reducing surveillance by those with policing powers in schools and communities.
We do this through providing legal representation to youth in certain types of hearings, engaging in policy advocacy, and doing community organizing around issues of youth criminalization.
Holistic Family Representation
Keeping families together.
We work to strengthen and maintain unity for families who are involved in or at risk of being involved in the family regulation system, while also working to replace that system. The family regulation system is commonly known as the child welfare system, which includes Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Department of Social Services (DSS). We believe that families who are struggling typically need support, not separation and that the government agencies charged with the well-being of our children are often harming them instead.
Our holistic family representation includes sharing information to make sure that families are informed of their legal rights, building support groups for parents and youth, and working on building partnerships and networks of support for families who need it. We also engage in policy advocacy for better laws shaping the family regulation system and family separation.
Fighting for access to equitable, adequately-funded public education for every child.
We work to ensure that every child in Virginia has access to equitable, adequately-funded public education that nurtures holistic well-being and equips them for success. We are a founding and co-leading member of the Fund Our Schools coalition, which envisions a Virginia where every student receives a high-quality public education and demands that the Commonwealth prioritize student needs and fully fund our K-12 schools. Fund Our Schools is made up of advocacy groups, parents, teachers, and students.
Saturday, February 25th, marked what is known as “Sine Die” at the Virginia General Assembly, the final day of the 2023 regular session. Thousands of bills were heard and debated during the 46 days of session. LAJC’s team worked tirelessly to prevent the rollback of rights for our communities and to push for progress during […]