Children's Rights Litigation


515 Washington St., 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02111-1759
Telephone:       (617) 451-0855
Fax:     (617) 451-0857

1875 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 510
Washington, D.C. 20009
Telephone:       (202) 986-3000
Fax:                 (202) 986-6648

The Center for Law and Education (CLE) strives to make the right of all students to quality education a reality throughout the nation and to help enable communities to address their own public education problems effectively. For the past 25 years, CLE has provided legal service nationwide to parents, students, educators, lawyers, and community organizations. The Center works to improve laws affecting the education of low-income children and to hold local and state educational agencies accountable for the implementation of those laws.

CLE directs three national projects, namely, School Reform/Title I; High School Restructuring/Vocational Education; Educational Rights of Students with Disabilities, and Community Action for Public Schools (CAPS). CLE can help with these topics in a number of ways, including: (1) training of parents, students and community members; (2) assistance to attorneys and advocates representing students and parents; (3) policy analysis and policy drafting; (4) staff development; (5) assistance in dealing with state and federal policy-makers; (6) access to, and assistance in using, out extensive publications on program implementation in these areas (such as our implementation and advocacy guides on Title I, the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, and other programs); (7) access to other resources around the country, including schools, exemplary programs, researchers, and advocates. Some of these services are available to CAPS members, while others may be available through CLE projects, or in some cases on a fee-for-service basis.

Services available from the Center include advice and collaboration on cases, publications, training, federal program advocacy, and litigation. It also handles special, national implementation projects in the areas of Title I/State and Local Education Reform and vocational education/school to work. Other priority areas of the Center are education rights of students with disabilities, early intervention services and early childhood education issues affecting the limited-English proficient student, and educational rights of welfare recipients.

Pound Hall 407
1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Telephone:       (617) 496-1684
Fax:                 (617) 496-4947

100% Children's Law

The Child Advocacy Program (CAP) provides an academic classroom course, a policy workshop, and a clinical course. CAP focuses on child welfare (abuse and neglect, foster care, adoption), education (including special education issues), and juvenile justice. Students are involved with field work through several different organizations in order to secure hands on experiences. Students in the Clinic are placed with lawyers representing children in individual advocacy contexts, with legal organizations promoting systemic change through impact litigation and legislative reform, with the state care and protective organizations, with early home visitation programs that focus on supporting fragile families, and with other types of organizations.

The Juvenile Justice Project within the Criminal Justice Institute also provides representation to juveniles, with a focus on delinquency issues. Juveniles are represented in administrative and school hearings. The Project's four clinical instructors and one social worker work with 20 to 30 students a year to handle 100 cases each year. The Project receives appointments from district court.

44 Bromfield
Boston, MA 02108
Telephone:       (617) 482-6212
Fax:                 (617) 988-8455

100% Children's Law
Does Not Use Volunteer Attorneys

The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) was created by the legislature and is funded by the state to provide counsel services throughout the Commonwealth to all indigent parties who are entitled to assigned counsel in Massachusetts. The Children and Family Law Program of CPCS trains and certifies lawyers to represent indigent parents and children in state intervention cases (child abuse and neglect and parental rights termination cases), children in Children in Need of Services (CHINS) cases, and parents and children in any other child custody or guardianship proceeding in which the state or a licensed child custody agency is a party. Representation is provided by a panel of private court appointed attorneys and by staff attorneys in offices located throughout the Commonwealth.

Separate training and certification requirements govern attorneys assigned to represent children in delinquency cases. The Program offers a basic training program which attorneys must attend to obtain certification before accepting assignments. Experienced attorneys provide mentoring and support after training, and regional coordinators provide advice and technical assistance. The Program also monitors completion of continuing education requirements by attorneys so that they can maintain their certification. These continuing education credits are available through programs offered by the Program and relevant programs offered by bar associations and other entities and institutions. The Program also offers a separate, additional, mandatory training that is required for attorneys who wish to be assigned appeals.

298 Union St.
P.O. Box 710
Lynn, MA 01903
Telephone:       (781) 581-1977
Fax:                 (781) 598-9364

100% Children's Law
Does Use Volunteer Attorneys

Founded in 1977, the Children's Law Center of Massachusetts provides legal representation to low-income and indigent children who are abused, neglected, runaways or delinquent; children with special education and mental health needs; and children with multiple human service problems. Child development specialists and psychologists are employed in appropriate cases. The Law Center has brought significant lawsuits to enforce special education rights and sibling rights. And, from time to time, the Law Center has filed Amicus Briefs regarding the rights of juveniles in delinquency matters.

The Children's Law Center employs an innovative and comprehensive approach to its child and adolescent services, which combines information and referral assistance, direct representation and statewide training of attorneys, human service providers, educators and youth. The agency seeks to ensure that youth have the legal and social services support they need to complete their education and maintain safe, secure and healthy lives for themselves and their families.

In 1996, the Law Center created the Children's Pro Bono Program in response to the growing number of requests for legal assistance in special education and school exclusion matters that it received from students and families who are unable to afford legal assistance. The Pro Bono Program enables the Law Center to educate the larger legal community about the unmet needs of children and to increase the agency's capacity to serve its child-clients. The Law Center provides volunteer attorneys with substantive and procedural training and appoints each attorney an experienced attorney mentor in order to ensure the highest quality of representation.

25 Kingston St., 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02111
Telephone:       (617) 357-8431
Fax:                 (617) 357-8438

Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC) began in 1969 as the Task Force on Children out of School, focusing on school suspension and explusion. In 1992, MAC became part of the network of civil legal aid agencies in Massachusetts, and through that network, began the Children's Law Support Project. The Project's goals are to identify the emerging legal needs of Massachusetts' low income children; provide back-up legal support to legal service agencies around the state; and conduct advocacy at the state level to create system change.

The Project builds and participates in coalitions with legal services and other organizations to meet the needs of low income children as they arise, through collaborative legislative and administrative advocacy, and where necessary complex litigation. MAC coordinates the Education Law Task Force to provide on-going training, information and technical assistance to over 130 lawyers and advocates in the state.

MAC receives calls from about 800 families a year seeking advice, information or representation on concerns related to special education, school exclusions (suspensions or expulsions), the needs of children exposed to family violence, schooling disrupted by homelessness, autism, and MCAS. Currently, the Project is focused on the needs of children affected by domestic violence, disabilities, school suspension and expulsion, and homelessness. However, it retains the flexibility to respond to other issues as they arise.

11 Beacon St., Ste. 925
Boston, MA 02108
Telephone:       (617) 723-8455
Fax:                 (617) 723-9125

25% Children's Law
Does Use Volunteer Attorneys

The Disability Law Center, Inc. represents disabled children in many aspects of their lives, particularly educational rights of disabled students. The staff of 16 lawyers and two paralegals work with volunteers recruited from local law schools and seminars. Over 50 children's law cases a year are handled by staff and volunteers. Some volunteers work in-house with the staff while others are assigned cases which the volunteer then controls. The staff is always available for support and information. Training is provided on an as-needed basis. The Center also works with social workers, child development specialists, health care professionals and psychologists.

Impact litigation cases handled by the Center include enforcing the provision of ongoing special education services to a child in a residential placement, enforcing the provision of education services in the least restrictive environment, and enforcing the provision of Medicaid funded personal care services to children living at home.

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108
Telephone:       (617) 305-3200 or 617-573-8000
Fax:                 (617) 451-2641

100% Children's Law
Does Not Use Volunteer Attorneys

The Suffolk University Juvenile Justice Center (JCC) is guided by the philosophy that comprehensive lawyering is essential to meet the needs of juveniles involved with the courts. The Center is a demonstration model wherein thorough representation by advocates continues through disposition and addresses the legal needs of the child. The Juvenile Defenders Clinic serves the Boston Juvenile Court, South Boston, West Roxbury and Chelsea Juvenile Courts.

The Center handles 500 to 600 delinquency cases annually. Two JJC attorneys supervise Suffolk Law students representing youth in court, as well as provide direct representation to juveniles from arraignment through disposition. Students represent juveniles who are charged with crimes and any ancillary legal matters flowing from the case such as special education and suspension/expulsion; this will include all aspects of the court process commencing with arraignment, bail/detention, pre-trial motions, plea negotiations, trial, disposition and post-dispositional advocacy in the Department of Youth Services, the youth correctional agency in Massachusetts.

In addition to the Juvenile Justice Center, students can represent child clients in other clinics. Students in the Child Advocacy Clinic provide legal representation, counseling and advocacy on behalf of children and families in civil proceedings. Most clients are adolescents who are in foster care or who have recently "aged out" of state custody. Typical cases will involve advocating for clients' housing, education, financial, and independent living needs and protecting clients' rights to visit siblings or extended family members. The Clinic focuses on interdisciplinary advocacy, as students learn about the social work, mental health, and medical fields and how to collaborate effectively with professionals from these disciplines. The Education Advocacy Clinic provides legal representation to children facing school exclusions to ensure that schools are providing children with all the substantive and procedural due process rights to which they are entitled.

885 Centre St.
Newton Centre, MA 02459
Telephone:       (617) 552-2530
Fax:                 (617) 552-2615

100% Children's Law

The Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project (JRAP) began in 1995 as a grant-funded project to investigate a juvenile prison in Massachusetts. The Project represents youth, with a focus on girls, who are in the delinquency system. Two and one-half staff attorneys, four law students handle approximately thirty cases a year as attorneys and guardian ad litems. In the past, the clinic has utilized volunteer lawyers and former students as consultants on immigration law issues. Clients are referred to the project through juvenile court, social service agencies, self-referral, schools, health care professionals and other attorneys. The project does accept calls from children, but not from the public, seeking legal information.

Once staff take a young woman's case, they will continue to represent her through the many legal issues that arise over the years until she ages out of the system. In addition to developing a model of comprehensive legal representation, staff focus on policy advocacy relating to young women in the justice system through research and dissemination, public education, and consultation with defense counsel and advocates for girls nationally.

In addition to individual representation, JRAP is involved in ongoing research and policy advocacy aimed at reducing incarceration and supporting youth in their communities. Within its policy agenda, JRAP seeks to develop and model programs for delinquent youth that provide access for youth to a range of social services and promote collaboration across systems.

405 Main St.
Worcester, MA 01608-1735
Telephone:       (508) 752-3718
Fax:                 (508) 752-5918

The Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts (LACCM) is a civil legal services program that provides free legal assistance to low-income people. Children's rights is one of its priorities. The program has a Families and Children's Law Unit, staffed by five attorneys and one paralegal, which provides representation in the areas of education, family law issues, and government benefits. Impact litigation brought by the LACCM includes a suit involving the denial of emergency food stamps and a case arguing against inappropriate criteria for temporary absence in AFDC cases.

88 E. Newton St., Vose 5
Boston, MA 02118
Telephone:       (617) 414-6393
Fax:                 (617) 414-3629

Effective July 2012, and pending its pursuit of independent non-profit status, MLP | Boston has become a fiscally sponsored program of Third Sector New England, Inc., an established non-profit that serves as a corporate umbrella for programs advancing the causes of equality and social justice. Like our founding partner BMC, TSNE shares MLP | Boston's core values and we are delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate more closely with that team.

With support from 20 private law firms and in-house pro bono partners, MLP | Boston provides services at Boston Medical Center (Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Women's Health/Cancer Care), the Primary Care Center at Boston Children's Hospital, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

MLP | Boston is the Founding Site of the national MLP Network, a network of over 80 medical-legal partnerships across the country, partnered with 280+ health care institutions. In addition to regular contributions to national conferences, publications, and other such technical assistance activities, MLP | Boston actively supports the growing community of MLPs that serve patients in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, New England, and beyond

Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center
755 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
Telephone:       (617)636-5000
Fax:                 (617) 636-4017

The Medical Legal Partnership for Children introduces legal advocacy into the clinical setting to address the root causes of such childhood maladies as asthma, injuries, malnutrition and other medical issues that cannot be treated by medicine alone. Advocacy is provided regarding hunger and nutrition, family violence, family court matters, housing and utilities, and special education. In addition to direct services to patients, the Partnership also trains and educates healthcare professionals to identify non-medical sources of poor child health and learn how to access available services. Policy advocacy is also utilized to address programs and policies that impact the health of vulnerable pediatric patients.

Boston Medical Center
88 E. Newton St., Vose 5
Boston, MA 02118
Telephone:       (617) 414-7439
Fax:                 (617) 414-3629

Does Use Volunteer Attorneys

The Medical-Legal Partnership for Children was founded in 1993 to provide low-income children and their families with legal representation on a host of issues to improve child health by ensuring that families' basic needs are met. It expanded from Boston Medical Center and since 2006 has provided technical assistance to partnership sites, facilitated the MLP Network, and coordinated national research and policy activities related to preventive law, health disparities, and the social determinants of health. MLPC's National Center officially became the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership (NCMLP) in 2009.

The National Center supports the expansion, advancement, and integration of the medical-legal partnership model through: technical assistance and support for partnership sites; sample training materials; leadership and project support for medical-legal partnerships; Annual Medical-Legal Partnership Summit; facilitation of the MLP Network and four Working Groups in core areas of medical-legal partnership; and, coordination of national research and evaluation and policy activities related to preventive law, health disparities, and the social determinants of health.

99 Chauncy St., 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02111
Telephone:       (617) 423-0648
Fax:                 (617) 423-0061

10% Children's Law
Does Use Volunteer Attorneys

In 1978 Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) began as a project of the Boston Bar Association, but has now become a separate nonprofit organization that is staffed by eight attorneys and two paralegals. VLP recruits volunteer attorneys and law students through local bar associations, law firms and law schools as well as by offering free trainings. VLP utilizes 600 volunteer attorneys to handle 450 cases a year in a variety of legal matters for low income, U.S. citizens who are Boston area residents.

In the areas of children's law, VLP recruits and trains pro bono attorneys to represent children in SSI matters and to represent relatives or friends raising children who wish to formalize their arrangement through guardianship or adoption. These volunteer lawyers are mentored by the staff or by experienced pro bono attorneys.

7 Palmer Street, Suite 302
Roxbury, MA 02119-1776
Telephone:       617.445.7581
Fax:                 617.445.7587

100% Children's Law
Does Not Use Volunteer Attorneys

For 20 years the Youth Advocacy Project's (YAP) mission has been to help Boston's neediest children at some of the most challenging moments of their lives. In October 2009, the Youth Advocacy Project became the Youth Advocacy Division (YAD). With offices in Fall River, Hyannis, Lowell, Quincy, Roxbury, Salem, Somerville, Springfield and Worcester, YAD will lead, train, and support the entire Massachusetts juvenile defense bar. YAD's overarching purpose will be to improve legal and life outcomes for youth by building the skills and capacity of their advocates. YAD assists children in delinquency proceedings with effective representation in court, educational advocacy, psychological assessments, and individualized referrals to community resources. YAD's aim is to ensure that a clients' involvement with YAD becomes their last encounter with the criminal justice system by addressing their many life needs beyond simply their immediate legal needs.