EBCLO’s Community-based Advocacy for Resources and Education (C.A.R.E.) program was awarded a $25,000 grant from the Andrus Family Fund this week. The grant will help the East Bay Children’s Law Offices implement programming which protects the rights of foster youth beyond the courtroom by promoting educational equity, healthy transitions to young adulthood, and trauma-informed responses and services. The Andrus Family Fund seeks to foster just and sustainable change in the United States. They support organizations that advance social justice and improve outcomes for vulnerable youth. EBCLO is grateful to be among the organizations supported by the Andrus Family Fund and looks forward to continued collaboration for the benefit of Alameda County youth.
Expected state budget cuts hit home to the tune of $17,946.18 per month here at EBCLO. The Judicial Council of California has determined it costs $202.9 million/year to adequately fund counsel for children and families in child welfare cases. Yet the 2016-2017 budget allocates only $114.7 million. Our share of this deficit is over $215,000.
We need your help. We are often asked how we do this work that we love. It’s never been easy–and now it’s even harder. We are inviting you to join in the work with us by providing the financial support we need to keep our doors open. Our mission is to provide top notch holistic legal services to the most vulnerable children in our community. Our clients are not someone else’s children; they are all of our children. We invite you to contribute $18/month because we have lost $18,000/month. Our hope is that with partners like you sharing in our mission, we will be able to continue to provide a strong voice for the children and youth we serve. Thank you for your support.
The California Child Welfare Co-Investment Partnership released a report about the important role the courts play in the child welfare system. The numbers speak for themselves. A 2015-2016 study measured the cost of providing representation to children and families in the dependency system at $202.9 million statewide. For the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the California Judicial Council has allocated $114.7 million covering only 56 percent of the needed funding.
Click here to read the study: On Balance– The Courts and Child Welfare
How does this affect EBCLO? Starting September 1, 2016, we are receiving $17,946.18 less from the State of California each month. Want to help make up the difference? Donate on our website today!
EBCLO’s Community-based Advocacy for Resources and Education (C.A.R.E.) program recently received its first ever $10,000 grant from Sky Ranch Foundation. Founded in 1961, Sky Ranch Foundation strives to be the uniting force within the beverage industry for aid to at-risk youth and reflects the industry’s great concern and commitment to the youth of America. EBCLO is honored to be among their grantees and looks forward a long partnership with Sky Ranch. We were delighted to host a visit from Sky Ranch Board Member Mike Donohoe this week (pictured above with Education Attorney Haley Fagan, Board President Kathy Siegel, Interim Executive Director Susan Walsh, Director of Finance Ana Wong and Managing Attorney Joy Ricardo). He shares our enthusiasm for EBCLO’s mission, and his generosity is much appreciated. Thank you Sky Ranch!
Yesterday, Governor Edmund G. Brown announced his latest appointments to the bench. Among them was East Bay Children’s Law Offices Executive Director Roger Chan who was appointed to serve in the San Francisco Superior Court. Roger co-founded EBCLO in 2009 and has served as its Executive Director ever since. He will be greatly missed by everyone at EBCLO and in Alameda County. Our loss is San Francisco’s gain. To read the Governor’s press release, click here.
EBCLO is proud to announce that our former intern and Class of 2016 Golden Gate University Law School graduate, Jessie Conradi, has been awarded the prestigious Equal Justice Works Fellowship for her project expanding EBCLO’s legal advocacy to create access to quality mental health services for our foster youth clients. Her project is sponsored by Clorox as well as the law firm of Kilpatrick, Townsend & Stockton. One of only 61 Equal Justice Works projects selected nationwide, Jessie’s project aims to assist our office in identifying high risk youth earlier, advocating for appropriate services, training our social workers and attorneys and establishing a systemic coalition to address systemic deficiencies. The anticipated result is that youth will increase school attendance, decrease placement changes, be properly medicated and have reduced exposure to the juvenile justice system. Jessie holds a Masters in Social Work from the Catholic University of America and her JD from Golden Gate University. We wish her the best of luck with the bar exam this summer and look forward to her project beginning in September of 2016.
Most EBCLO clients are only ever represented by one attorney. Sometimes, however, a youth might have the opportunity to work with our specialty attorneys regarding education or emancipation issues. And then there’s the youth whose lawyer goes on maternity leave, or even vacation, and the youth meets another fabulous EBCLO attorney. “Rose” was one such client. Not only did she meet several of us, but she endeared herself to every single one of us. Rose had some fits and starts with school, but last year she sought out someone to become her foster family. With that support, she re-committed herself to school and found herself succeeding. The judge noticed and asked her about school. She invited him to her graduation. Though he couldn’t make it, he suggested that maybe Rose’s lawyer would like to attend. Indeed, Lisa Friedman did want to attend.
Rose made such an impact on every EBCLO attorney she met that they all pitched in to celebrate her high school graduation. Two former EBCLO attorneys, Bianca Bedigian and Jenny Yu, even made arrangements to personally sign Rose’s graduation card and contribute to a gift for her. And in the audience at her graduation in the central valley . . . her foster family, her biological family and EBCLO attorneys Dominique Pinkney and Lisa Friedman.
Congratulations to Rose and three cheers for her EBCLO Dream Team as well.
What a spring it was for 19 year old EBCLO client Julius. First he was MetWest High School’s Prom King. Then he earned his high school diploma, graduating with a 3.7 GPA. Having entered the school with less than a 2.0, his grit and great sense of humor, not to mention the incredible support of his school and his foster family, propelled Julius past the finish line.
Julius didn’t spend his entire high school career in foster care. Rather, two years ago when his caregiver was evicted and no one in his family would take him in, Julius found his own family. He describes that his former pediatrician and her family “had a soft spot for me, I guess.” With the help of EBCLO, the relationship was made official, but the support of Julius’ new family came naturally. “If I needed something, I knew I could ask them. . . even if it was ridiculous,” says Julius.
Two years later this delightful young man has accomplished a lot for himself-in addition to being Prom King and a high school graduate, he has a supportive family, a new job and plans to attend community college in the fall to earn a trade like auto mechanics or carpentry. He also has a new name thanks to his EBCLO attorney, Liz Aleman. Julius had wanted his name changed for at least 8 years, and Ms. Aleman wasted no time. Julius was able to enter adulthood officially using the name he’d informally used for so long. What’s Julius’ advice for other kids in the system? “Persevere through any situation even if you think you won’t make it out. You have to keep going because you never know what’s on the other side. And accept yourself; learn to love yourself. You have to be comfortable with who you are and have confidence.”
EBCLO’s Christie DeGuzman, Dominique Pinkney, Sarah McElhinney, Tenisha Lewis, Haley Fagan, Larita Cortez & Eric Adelman show their Warrior Pride!
You may not all be basketball fans, but EBCLO is directly across the highway from the home of the Golden State Warriors. Needless to say, we’re Dubs fans. If you’ve seen any of the playoff games, you probably noticed the sea of yellow shirts with their motto Strength in Numbers. What’s amazing about the Warriors is their deep bench of talent and their ability to work together even when their star player is sidelined. EBCLO has shown its strength in numbers this spring. After education attorney Jenny Yu transitioned to Liebert, Cassidy and Whitmore, staff attorney Peggy Stone subbed in as education attorney for the past month. Later in May, staff attorney Haley Fagan will start as our new education attorney this month. Likewise, our Community-based Advocacy for Resources and Education (CARE) AB12 attorney Liz Aleman will join the starting lineup of attorneys in the Oakland dependency courtroom. In another late season trade, dependency staff attorney Collin Baker will join the CARE team as the new Transition Age Youth Services Coordinator. Even Board President Kathy Siegel is getting in the game, subbing in for staff attorney Amanda Sherwood who will be going on maternity leave. In late breaking news, Dan Richardson, one of EBCLO’s original staff attorneys, will be joining the California Judicial Council. EBCLO is now recruiting two staff attorneys and will soon be announcing new social worker recruits. It’s almost like the NBA draft. I am so proud of EBCLO’s strength in numbers as we continue to build the best team around.
Adoption Finalization Day–January 21, 2016
This Mother’s Day, LaDawn has four more children. Actually, she’s had them since 2012 when they came to her as foster children. They stayed a week and went home. And then a few weeks later the call came that they needed a foster home again. All four of them-ages 6, 7, 9 and 12. Just days before, LaDawn and her husband had been asked to foster different children. Something inside told her not to take them. And so it was that she was able to take back the four children who had stayed with her just weeks before. This time, they stayed for good. There were 18 months of reunification services; countless hearings; a couple mediations; and always love. Lots of love. And lots of patience. LaDawn helped the children navigate their way through new schools, multiple social workers, visitation with their family, and just growing up. And then, on January 21, 2016, LaDawn and her husband made their family official. Our four clients were adopted. A heartfelt congratulations and a very Happy Mother’s Day to LaDawn!