Our Covid-19 Advocacy
We are honing our advocacy efforts around the legal needs and rights of youth and young adults as they navigate this new terrain—some of the issues are long-standing while others are emerging. We are committed to highlighting and sharing recent efforts—these have addressed the immediate issues our clients are facing such as safety, health and access to the courts. Many other urgent issues are profoundly impacting youth and young adults: access to education, transportation, economic security, housing, medical care and basic needs. As aid through public and philanthropic sources become available, young people experience unique challenges in getting help. We see the need for our advocacy to anticipate, mitigate and address the longer term implications of this pandemic so that the historical marginalization and discrimination around race and income are not repeated and reinforced as the country rebuilds.
Education in the wake of COVID-19 Know Your Rights Manual in English and Spanish
TeamChild staff members created this Education in the wake of COVID19 Know Your Rights Manual to address some of the new difficulties youth and families face because of the changes in circumstances surrounding education due to COVID-19. Topics include Attendance & Truancy during School Closures, Grading, Technology Access, Students Disciplined before Crisis, Students Experiencing Homelessness, Special Education – Following IEPs, Special Education – Temporary Changes, English Language Learners (ELL) and Supporting Non-English Speaking Families.
Si está interesado en obtener más información sobre los derechos de educación durante Covid-19, siga este enlace para acceder a La educación tras el COVID-19 Manual para Conocer sus derechos.
Please note that things are changing rapidly during this time of uncertainty, and this manual may be updated and new issues may be added to address what communities are facing.
Supporting Clients During Physical Distancing
Our staff continues to work remotely and find new ways of connecting young people with needed resources. Though offices are closed, staff are available via email, text, phone, and video chat. We are closely monitoring equitable access to education and special education services for our current clients as well as the broader population as the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and school districts roll out remote learning resources for our clients.
Managing Attorney Rosey Thurman participated in a Facebook livestream video hosted by The Law Office of D.C. Cronin to share with viewers how TeamChild continues to assist youth in the Spokane community.
Releasing youth and adults from county detention and state prisons
Working with the ACLU of Washington, we sent letters to Washington’s Department of Children and Family Service’s (DCYF)’s Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (which runs youth prisons across the state), as well as Juvenile Court Administrators and Judges. The letters worked within an abolitionist framework, calling for the release of all youth under their jurisdiction, and starting with those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and those within 6 months of their release date. We spoke with Reporter Ashley Gross in a KNKX news story to continue highlighting the need for the release of youth from incarceration. Our letters were included in a broader action taken by youth justice advocates in 35 states.
King County’s juvenile detention numbers have gone down since the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is more that can be done. In June, we joined a coalition of community organizations and leaders in co-writing a follow-up letter to the King County Council calling for more action to release, with supports, the approximately 30 youth incarcerated in the county detention center, most of whom are awaiting the outcome of their cases. We also joined the King County Department of Public Defense and other partners in co-writing a letter requesting that the King County Superior stop incarcerating youth due to warrants for status offenses.
Working with Columbia Legal Services and other community organizations, we sent a letter to Governor Jay Inslee and the Department of Corrections advocating for a variety of tactics to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in state prisons. Some of these measures included the immediate release of vulnerable populations from state prisons.
Working with King County Department of Public Defense, the WACDL/WDA COVID-19 Response Taskforce, and others, we sent a letter and a proposed order to the Washington State Supreme Court, to protect our clients, their families, and our community and to address the court’s emergency actions.
We signed on to an open letter to Governor Jay Inslee, a letter to the King County Council, and a letter to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, organized by the Covid-19 Mutual Aid Solidarity Network. These letters were in solidarity with incarcerated communities and advocated for the immediate release of vulnerable populations, as well as re-purposing police resources towards public health services.
Working with Columbia Legal Services in Yakima, we signed on to a letter to Yakima County and City Officials and Judges advocating for additional efforts to be taken to curb the spread of Covid-19 in jails and prisons.
We signed on to a letter from public health professionals and advocacy organizations across the state, which urges Governor Jay Inslee to release people from correctional facilities, county jails, and detention centers immediately, in order to reduce the harm caused by Covid-19 to already marginalized communities.
Ensuring access to the court and due process, and mitigating harm from Covid-19 responses
We worked on follow-up letters to the Supreme Court. We signed on to the Northwest Justice Project’s (NJP’s) letter to the Washington State Supreme Court urging that the state’s emergency COVID-19 response does not impair access to the courts or further harm those in Washington State who have been historically marginalized.
Together with Legal Council for Youth and Children we worked on a letter endorsing NJP’s proposed language and adding additional language around truancies and collection of court LFOs. We signed on to a call for a nationwide moratorium on juvenile fines and fees, organized by the National Juvenile Justice Network.
We worked with a broad coalition of organizations to send a letter to Gov. Inslee and DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter regarding family visitation rights for parents and children in temporary out-of-home placements. This action was followed up with a second letter asking for clarification regarding individual determinations for in-person visits with families and siblings, resulting in this Emergency Order on Dependency and Termination Cases.
Supreme Court Orders and Governor’s Proclamations
Visit the Supreme Court website for an up to date list of all Supreme Court orders related to Covid-19.
Visit the Governor’s news release web page for an up to date list of news, including proclamations, from the Governor’s office.
Proclamations specifically related to TeamChild’s work include:
- Inslee statement on Monroe Correctional Complex disturbance
- Inslee announces strategies for reducing the number of individuals incarcerated to address COVID-19 in DOC system
- Inslee issues new proclamations on criminal statutes, CDLs and garnishments
- Inslee issues new orders to reduce prison populations during the COVID-19 outbreak
Supreme Court orders specifically related to TeamChild’s work include:
- Revised and Extended Order Regarding Court Operations
- Second Revised and Extended Order Regarding Court Operations No. 25700-B-618
- Amended Third Revised and Extended Order Regarding Court Operations No. 25700-B-626
- Supreme Court Order regarding dependency and termination cases