Children’s Law Center (CLC) was established in 1995 to increase the effectiveness of child advocacy in Minnesota. CLC works to stabilize and protect foster and at-risk youth in three ways:
- Direct Representation - CLC is the only private organization in Minnesota that provides direct pro bono legal representation exclusively to children. Along with a team of over 300 volunteers and volunteer attorneys, CLC ensures that foster children receive the services to which they are entitled, including those related to shelter, clothing, educational stability, physical and mental health care, adoption searches, sibling contact agreements and much more. For many CLC clients, their attorney is the most stable adult in their lives, offering trust and confidentiality that is otherwise unavailable to them. Both Hennepin and Ramsey County courts appoint CLC to represent their counties’ foster children. CLC provides each child client with a trained volunteer attorney who is supported by CLC staff and a social worker. This enables young foster children to understand their options, empowers them to voice their opinions, and provides them with an advocate to explain what is happening throughout the course of their representation.
- Systemic Reform – CLC actively participates in local coalitions and youth focused groups to advocate for systemic changes and improvements to better serve at-risk and foster care youth. As the only private advocacy organization with specific legal expertise on children’s rights, many coalitions look to CLC to research issues that have been identified in their direct work with young people. To this end, CLC has been successful in influencing policy and law changes on the state and county levels.
- Education - CLC has developed a suite of informational “Knowing Your Rights” pamphlets, available at schools, shelters, and community organizations that work with at-risk youth. Topics include, but are not limited to housing, employment, voting rights, health-related matters, credit card rights and responsibilities. CLC also presents informational training sessions to homeless shelter staff, law enforcement personnel, school administrators, teachers, counselors and other professional adult populations who work with at-risk youth.
Most children are surrounded by parents, siblings, extended family, church communities, and others. CLC is committed to ensuring that at-risk youth have a parallel community of support, engaged and interested in their wellbeing. With this in place, children are more stable and less likely to be in precarious home situations. It is our experience that, when foster youth are safe and live in a supportive environment, they can succeed – an expectation that can be met. To that end, CLC will continue to provide services to improve the stability of our most vulnerable population, and advocate for effective systemic reform on their behalf.