Project Activities

Project Activities

This project is directed by the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law and Youth at Risk Commission, in partnership with Casey Family Programs and the Eckerd Family Foundation

Mission: To improve outcomes for youth currently in foster care as well as young people who have aged out of care by promoting youth participation in court cases that affect them and offering access to legal counseling and representation to youth in need of specialized legal assistance.


1. Every state and territory must provide legal representation to youth in foster care.
The Bar-Youth Empowerment Project will:

  • Develop sample state legislation and court rules to require appointment of a lawyer for all youth in care;
  • Write a white paper on the need for legal representation of youth in dependency cases;
  • Meet with state and national stakeholders to build support for this goal.

2. Youth voices must always be effectively heard in court.
The Bar-Youth Empowerment Project will:

  • Provide substantive training to attorneys, judges, guardians ad litem, CASAs and law students on involving children and youth in court hearings, case planning meetings and family team meetings;
  • Develop materials for judges, lawyers and youth on the dependency process to aid in ensuring case participation and empowerment of youth;
  • Develop materials for youth to help them successfully exit care and advocate for themselves.

3. Former foster youth must have access to basic legal advice.
The Bar-Youth Empowerment Project will facilitate lawyer-youth partnerships that will:

  • Recruit and train pro bono attorneys and law students in project sites to provide legal advice and referrals about housing, education, public benefits, domestic relations, immigration and other law related issues;
  • Organize substantive group legal trainings for youth about relevant topics.

For more information contact:
Linda Britton, Project Director 202/662-1730