Back To School – Youth Education Law Collaborative
During the summer months, TeamChild has been working very hard on creating a new Youth Education Law Collaborative (YELC). TeamChild, along with Northwest Justice Project, Washington Autism Alliance, Kids in Need of Defense, Disability Rights Washington, and Seattle University School of Law will provide accessible legal information and education advocacy to students impacted by COVID-19. This collaboration has brought on 4 new full-time attorneys to represent youth and families in education legal cases in our state for the 2022-2023 school year. We are thrilled that we can expand legal representation right now, when we know the many ways COVID-19 has impacted the educational services provided to students. We hope that partnering with these advocacy agencies will strengthen our legal advocacy and help us to improve access to legal support for students and families across the state.
Attorneys and volunteer law students from Seattle University School of Law have been working to put together an accessible intake line, which will be live and announced on our website in October. The centralized intake line should make it easy for students and families to access legal help without having to call each of the partner organizations separately. Referrals made to the intake line might be sent to TeamChild, but they might also be sent to Northwest Justice Project, or Washington Autism Alliance to have an attorney assigned to investigate their case or assess if legal representation is possible.
Additionally, each agency has been training and interacting with the newly formed Youth Advisory Board (YAB) who will guide the collaborative’s priorities, potential systemic advocacy focus, and the creation of self-advocacy materials. The YAB is a group of 10 young people who are committed to listening to youth statewide about their educational needs and providing leadership to the collaborative’s work this year. The YAB is supported by staff at TeamChild and Disability Rights Washington. Part of their orientation included attending the Freedom School, hosted by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, to ensure our leadership team is grounded in anti-racism.
The young people on the YAB are unique and have valuable lived experiences that inform the collaborative about the work that is most important to our youth clients. As young people return to school this year, we expect many issues will arise with making sure support, services, and adults are in each school building to support a return to a full-time schedule.
The work of the collaborative will be ongoing throughout the school year to not only provide advocacy but sit in relationship with the young people on the YAB to ensure accountability to each local communities’ advocacy needs. The diverse and intersecting communities the YAB reflects stays true to this very intentional investment the collaborative has made to work together to uplift the voices and experiences of students and young adults.
If you or a young person you know would like more information about the Youth Advisory Board, or would like to sign up for an upcoming listening session in one of our regional communities, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you or a young person you know want to reach out to the Youth Education Law Collaborative before our intake line is live, please contact: [email protected]
Follow @TeamChild on social media for more updates in October about these exciting education resources and programs.