WHAT’S AT STAKE: CHILDREN’S UNIQUE LEGAL RIGHTS
Children have unique legal rights and interests. Children enter the juvenile justice system through child welfare or juvenile offender matters. When this occurs, a child’s right to an education, basic nurturing, physical and mental health, family relationships, liberty and a safe, stable and permanent home are at risk. Children involved in these systems also face cascading repercussions such as poor school attendance, graduation rates, unemployment, involvement in the criminal justice system and homelessness. Children in the juvenile court system are in need of legal advocacy that goes beyond what is provided through today’s standard public defense. Multidisciplinary, holistic legal advocacy is essential to ensure each child’s legal rights, to break down barriers, and to expand opportunities for each youth to overcome the odds. The unmet needs of these children impact not just the child, but the child’s family and our community.