October 20, 2016 - This month the Buzz highlights Legal Aid’s Juvenile Advocacy Project hailed by the National Association of Council for Children as “one of the fifty best law firms for children in the United States.” The Project, which was created in 1991 with funding from the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, has for the past twenty-five years been an innovator in establishing protocols for the representation of children who present with mental illness, developmental delay, or trauma resulting from abuse, abandonment or neglect. The Project’s dedicated staff works to prepare these children with the necessary tools and support systems to become productive members of society.
The Project is fully integrated into Palm Beach County’s Juvenile Court System. The need for the appointment and expertise of the project is mostly determined by the juvenile court judges. These appointments comprise approximately 99% of the children represented by the Project. The appointment is usually prompted by system failure or the needs of the child exceeding the expertise of the agencies traditionally involved with the child.
Since its inception the Project has brought significant changes to the juvenile system not only on a local level but also statewide to protect Florida’s children and create opportunities for their success, including: collaborating with the Department of Children and Families in planning a seamless and smooth transition for local foster youth from the prior independent living legislation to the current extended foster care scheme and has participated on a circuit committee that developed protocols for the implementation of Florida Rules of Juvenile Procedure 8.255 (b) requiring children to attend their dependency hearing. These protocols addressed the child’s need to participate in their case without re-traumatizing them.
Our Juvenile Advocacy Project is always looking for pro bono attorneys willing to represent its child/clients as attorney ad litem and is grateful to the many private attorneys who have accepted these assignments.
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