Children's Rights Litigation

Illinois

American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois

150 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 600
Chicago, IL 60601-7401
Telephone:    (312) 201-9740
Email:              acluofillinois@aclu-il.org
Website:         www.aclu-il.org

15% Children’s Law

Does Use Volunteer Attorneys

The ACLU of Illinois uses class actions for impact litigation involving children’s issues. Approximately 15% of the yearly case load is children’s law cases. Currently there are several large class actions pending which concern children’s law issues. Clients have been referred by the courts, social service agencies, schools, health care professionals and other attorneys.

Volunteer lawyers, mainly found through personal contacts by staff members, team with the staff of eleven attorneys and work on impact cases involving the foster care system, state institutions for children, and other issues involving children's rights. Volunteer lawyers are trained on an as- needed basis. The ACLU uses social workers, health care professionals and psychologists to assist in case preparation.

Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation

33 N. Dearborn Street, Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60602
Telephone:     (312) 332-1624
Website:          www.cvls.org

6% Children’s Law

Does Use Volunteer Attorneys

Established In 1964, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation is the nation’s oldest, largest and most cost-effective provider of pro bono services to individuals. In 2004, over 1,800 volunteers handled 15,079 cases. CVLS volunteers help clients with non-fee generating, everyday civil cases including bankruptcy, family law, consumer fraud, minor and adult disabled guardianships, immigration, tort defense, wills, mortgage foreclosures and landlord-tenant matters. Additionally, CVLS is appointed to serve as guardians ad litem (GAL) in contested or problematic minor guardianship cases in the cook county circuit court probate division. GAL’S investigate the parties and the issues and make written reports to the court that includes a recommendation as to the child's best interests. CVLS staff works one-on-one with interested volunteers and provides comprehensive training materials. Clients are referred by the courts, social service agencies, schools, health care professionals, attorneys and other legal aid programs. We accept calls from the public and from children seeking legal information during business hours. The foundation handles approximately 600 children’s law cases a year.

Children & Family Justice Center
Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

375 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611-3069
Telephone:     (312) 503-8576
Website:          www.law.northwestern.edu/cfjc
Email:               cfjc@law.northwestern.edu

100% Children’s Law

Does Use Volunteer Attorneys

The Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC), a comprehensive clinical children's law program, promotes justice for children, adolescents and their families through legal representation, policy advocacy and law reform. As part of Northwestern University School of Law's Bluhm Legal Clinic, CFJC faculty, staff, and students work with young people and families in matters relating to delinquency and crime, the collateral consequences of criminal convictions, school discipline, immigration/asylum, and fair sentencing practices. The CFJC also collaborates with community members, government entities and other advocacy organizations to develop fair and effective strategies for systems reform.

Legal Aid Chicago
(Formerly Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago)

120 S. Lasalle Street, Ste. 900
Chicago, IL 60603
Telephone:     (312) 341-1070
Website:          www.legalaidchicago.org

100% Children’s Law

Does Use Volunteer Attorneys

Legal Aid Chicago resolves critical legal problems that trap people in poverty. Legal Aid Chicago handles an array of cases related to children and family, including those involving personal safety and financial stability, expungement of juvenile criminal records, special education and school discipline, and more.

Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic
University of Chicago Law School

6020 South University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
Telephone:     (773) 702-9611
Website:          https://www.law.uchicago.edu/clinics/mandel

25% Children’s Law

Does Not Use Volunteer Attorneys

The Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic offers a variety of services to the community including representation of children through the criminal and juvenile justice project. The clinic opened in 1957 and is staffed with eight attorneys and one paralegal. The project, established in 1992, is focused on providing legal representation to children accused of criminal and delinquent behavior subject to transfer from juvenile to adult criminal court. Training is provided to law students as part of the law school curriculum and students are teamed with staff attorneys to assist clients referred from juvenile court, the public defender’s office and other attorneys.

Social work students assist the law students and staff in preparation of their cases.

The Family Defense Center/Ascend Justice

70 E. Lake Street, Ste 1100
Chicago, IL 60601
Telephone:     (312) 251-9800
Email:               fdc@familydefensecenter.org
Website:          http://www.familydefensecenter.net/

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.

Loyola Civitas Childlaw Clinic
Loyola University of Chicago

25 E. Pearson Street
Chicago, IL 60611
Telephone:     (312) 915-6481
Website:          https://www.luc.edu/law/academics/centersinstitutesandprograms/civitaschildlawcenter/

100% Children’s Law

Loyola’s internationally recognized Civitas ChildLaw Center balances classroom learning with a wide range of hands-on experiential opportunities. These offerings, the most comprehensive available at any way school in the country, equip students with interdisciplinary knowledge and practical skills to advocate on behalf of vulnerable children and families in both the litigation and policy realms.

Child Law is a legal specialty focused on laws, policies, and practices that affect children and their families, including:

  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Juvenile justice
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Education
  • Adoption

Loyola’s ChildLaw Center prepares law students, lawyers, and other leaders to be effective advocates for children. To accomplish this mission, we:

  • Train law students, attorneys, and child-serving professionals to serve the unique legal needs of children and families;
  • Provide high quality legal representation to child clients;
  • Advocate for laws, policies, and practices that advance children’s rights;
  • Advance knowledge of children’s rights through research, scholarship, and training;
  • Serve the educational needs of children through litigation and policy reforms;
  • Promote improved public child-serving systems;
  • Create greater public awareness of children’s circumstances, needs, and rights;
  • Contribute to children’s law as an area of legal specialization;
  • Strengthen the quality of justice for children.

National Immigrant Justice Center

Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights
224 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60604
Telephone:     (312) 660-1370
Website:          www.immigrantjustice.org

Does Use Volunteer Attorneys

The National Immigrant Justice Center, a program of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, provides direct legal services to and advocates for low-income and impoverished immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. The center provides legal services to more than 7,500 individuals each year and maintains a success rate of 90 percent in obtaining asylum for those fleeing persecution in their home countries.

The center’s Children’s Project employs a managing attorney, staff attorney and paralegal who recruit, train and mentor pro bono attorneys who represent unaccompanied children. The center utilizes pro bono attorneys to represent individuals in immigration cases. Pro bono attorneys primarily come from pro bono programs at private law firms. Attorneys receive training specific to the type of immigration case they will work on. Attorneys can also be involved through policy advocacy efforts and impact litigation.

Office of the Public Guardian of Cook County

2245 W. Odgen, 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60612
Telephone:     (312) 433-4300
Website:          www.publicguardian.org
Email:              opg@cookcountyil.gov

98% Children’s Law (Juvenile Division)

Does Use Volunteer Attorneys

Approximately 38,000 children’s law cases a year are handled by the Office of the Public Guardian of Cook County. In the juvenile division, attorneys act as attorneys and guardians ad litem for virtually all abused and neglected children in cook county. The office represents these children as soon as their parents are brought to court on charges of either abuse or neglect. A staff of 130 is supplemented with social workers, health care professions and volunteer attorneys at the office who always work under the supervision of staff lawyers. Clients are referred through the juvenile court and domestic relations court.

Youth Futures Mobile Legal Clinic-Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

70 East Lake Street, Suite 720
Chicago, IL 60601
Telephone:     (312) 641-4140
Website:          https://www.chicagohomeless.org/programs-campaigns/legal-aid/law-project/

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless runs a mobile legal aid clinic for homeless and unaccompanied youth, staffed by four attorneys. Youth Futures offers regular outreach through Chicago high schools, street programs, health clinics and shelters, including the Broadway Youth Center, Center on Halsted, Covenant House, Ignite, La Casa Norte, and The Night Ministry.