What We Do
Children’s Law Center (CLC) provides free legal advocacy for foster care youth in Minnesota. CLC advocates for foster children through systemic reform and provides free legal representation services to foster children. CLC also trains volunteer attorneys to represent foster children in court.
Why is CLC important?
CLC provides direct legal representation for foster children who are, simply by being foster children, involved in the legal system. Children have the right to have quality representation when judges and court workers are making decisions about their lives. They have a voice in what happens to them. CLC is the only organization in Minnesota that provides legal representation for foster children.
Why do children need lawyers?
- In most cases, foster children have been abused or neglected. They need to be protected from being further traumatized by the system.
- Navigating child welfare court systems is complicated and confusing.
- Minnesota state law allows children ages 10 and older to request a court-appointed attorney. However, many children attend court alone or not at all.
- Foster children are often not aware of the services and support to which they are entitled, such as sibling contact and independent living skills training.
- Judges do not typically meet with children before court dates, and only know what is written in their file.
- When foster children misbehave, they are often sent to overly restrictive placements and do not receive the same support that non-foster care peers do for the same behavior.
- It is important for children who are transitioning out of foster care to have a plan in place that will help them manage the next stages of their lives. Although required by law, these plans are often not implemented early enough and sometimes not at all.
How many children does CLC currently represent?
In 2017, with the help of almost 300 volunteers and volunteer attorneys, CLC provided free legal representation to 850 foster children in Minnesota. At any given time, CLC is providing representation for over 550-620 foster children. This is a dramatic increase in CLC’s case load, a 128% increase in cases since 2010.