Would you like to serve as a pro bono attorney for abused and neglected children, but have a few questions first? Check out the questions and answers below, or contact your regional Lawyers for Children America office for more information. Program Directors are available to answer your questions and explain how you can make a difference in the life of an abused and neglected child.
Q. How old is the child who I might work for?
A. Children of all ages need help. You may work for children who range in age from infants to 21-year-olds.
Q. How do I get a case?
A. Each Lawyers for Children America program office follows a local procedure for case assignment. Generally, when an incident occurs where a child has been abused and/or neglected, the court has a hearing on the matter the day after the incident has occurred. You and the Lawyers for Children America program director would be at the court for the first hearing. You would then continue with case with the on-going support of the Lawyers for Children America program director.
Q. I’m a good lawyer and want to help children using my legal skills, but I’ve never really worked with children within the court system. Is that a problem?
A. No. Lawyers for Children America’s mandatory core training addresses issues related to child development as well as the substantive law to ensure that you are prepared for a case assignment.
Q. Do I have to complete the core training and core observation before
being assigned a case?
A. Yes. In order to be fully prepared for a case assignment, we require you to sucessfully complete the core requirements.
Q. When I am assigned a case, how quickly will I have to appear in
A. It could be as quickly as the next day or in a couple of days, depending on the regional program site you will volunteer with.
Q. Once I have a case assignment, how involved will I be with Lawyers for Children America program staff?
A. Lawyers for Children America program directors are always available for you to consult with regarding meeting the child whom you will represent, talking with social workers and other professional staff, presenting legal issues, court dates and other matters relevant to your case. We make resources available to you to help facilitate services to the child(ren) you are working with. We are with you as much as you need us to be, every step throughout the life of the case. Should your case go to trial, Lawyers for Children America program staff will work closely with you to ensure you are fully prepared.
Q. What kinds of problems could these kids be facing? What does it mean to be “abused and/or neglected’?
A.Children in the abuse and neglect system have been physically abused, sexually abused and/or neglected by a parent or caretaker. Generally, a child may have been “abused” if that child’s parent or guardian has inflicted physical or mental injury on the child, including excessive corporal punishment or sexual abuse. A child may have been “neglected” if that child’s parent has failed to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter or medical care for the child and that failure is not due to a lack of financial means. The legal definitions of abuse and neglect vary state by state, but, in general, children in the abuse and neglect system have experienced some sort of physical or mental harm. At the same time, it is important to remember that children who have been abused and/or neglected are like any other children in many ways and, like all children, they deserve to be loved and nurtured. These children deserve to have strong advocates who can look out for their best interests.
Q. How long could a case assignment potentially last?
A. The length of your case assignment really depends on a number of factors we will cover during the core training. Again, depending on many factors, there is a possibility that your involvement in a case could last until the child reaches adulthood.
For more answers to your questions, please contact Lawyers for Children America. click here…