Our Current Advocacy
As the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and ongoing systemic racism have converged to exacerbate challenges that youth and young adults are facing, we’ve been developing resources and collaborating with community partners to offer Know Your Rights information and strategize for systems change.
When the Stay Home Stay Healthy order went into effect in March, TeamChild staff quickly pivoted to providing legal representation remotely. In all of our client work, we are connecting with youth remotely and with precautions if in person as we address their legal needs and connect them to other community based services.
Supporting education access under COVID-19
TeamChild has long addressed education access and equity for young people experiencing school discipline, enrollment and reengagement barriers, inadequate special education and related services, and discrimination. COVID-19 has intensified these issues for youth of color, youth with disabilities and youth with financial challenges. TeamChild staff members created this Education in the wake of COVID-19 Know Your Rights Manual and will be updating this resource and offering community listening sessions and training as we learn how schools are approaching the 2020 school year. An Appendix of Forms and Samples (November, 2020) provides tools for youth and families to communicate directly with their school or district office. See our calendar for upcoming training dates.
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 / Formatos y Ejemplos (Enero, 2021).
- We continue to take referrals for youth experiencing barriers to education in all of our offices.
Reducing use of county detention and state prisons for juvenile offenders
We know from more than 20 years of our work that any incarceration has a profoundly negative impact on a young person’s life. Incarceration harms children, under any circumstances. The current public health crisis only aggravates and makes even clearer that harm. We have been working with local partners, public defenders, courts and Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR) to reduce the use of incarceration during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The actions we are taking now build on our long-time efforts to reduce detention admissions and shorten lengths of stay by increasing access to community based alternatives.
- During the COVID-19 crisis, we are providing individual legal representation focused on reentry and release planning, especially for those in county detention (King, Pierce, Yakima and Spokane counties) and in JR institutions and community facilities, where we have seen an increase in referrals.
Addressing immediate needs for highly mobile youth
All of our county based offices are collaborating with partners serving youth experiencing homelessness and youth in foster care. We are taking referrals and working on efforts to get youth-serving systems to address the urgent and immediate needs of highly mobile youth, especially those who are at high risk of being released into homelessness from our systems of care.
Working in solidarity with Black-led organizing efforts
TeamChild staff stand in solidarity with Black-led organizing efforts and community partners in our four regions. As lawyers for youth and young adults, we see that each of the systems we work in are designed and upheld within the structure of white supremacy to disproportionately harm Black people in our communities: education, the legal system, child welfare, housing, mental health and healthcare, and particularly policing. We further acknowledge that police brutality has a disproportionate and devastating impact on Black lives. Read our June Solidarity blogpost and our organizational statement on Police-Free Schools to learn more.