The Family Defense Center/Ascend Justice
70 E. Lake Street, Ste 1100
Chicago, IL 60601
Telephone: (312) 251-9800
Does Use Volunteer Attorneys
The Family Defense Center was founded in 2005 with the mission of advocating justice for families in the child welfare system. Now, with its expert staff of attorneys and more than 150 pro bono attorneys from Chicago law firms taking cases, the Center provides civil legal assistance to hundreds of families each year and is poised to affect true reform in the child welfare system.
The Center envisions an Illinois child welfare system where families are respected, protected, and supported. The Center’s goal is for accused parents and caregivers to keep their children, whenever it is safe and possible for them to do so, and to clear their names.
Through legal assistance, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and collaborative partnerships, the Center advocates for the value that parents should not be punished for difficult life circumstances, such as poverty or being a victim of domestic violence, or for everyday parenting decisions when children are not at risk. Instead, child welfare policies and practices should be focused on helping children who are truly abused and neglected, and on strengthening families and communities.
Today, The Center:
- Provides legal services for thousands of parents and caregivers facing wrongful charges through our expert staff of attorneys;
- Advocates for thousands of Illinois families through civil rights and class action lawsuits that pursue reforms in DCFS policies and practices;
- Leverages millions of dollars of donated legal services through its award-winning pro bono program, which engaged more than 150 pro bono attorneys in 2016; and
- Co-leads an innovative project that places domestic violence professionals in DCFS investigative offices to collaborate and advocate for trauma-informed, supportive family interventions.