Legal services for youth is a core program strategy that aims to help youth overcome obstacles that get in the way of their success. We work with youth in Yakima, King, Spokane and Pierce Counties who are at high risk for juvenile court involvement. Youth often feel hopeless about getting back on track after things go wrong. TeamChild’s legal advice and representation can help a youth get onto an education or employment track, secure stable and safe housing, build support for health and well-being, and reduce more episodes of incarceration and juvenile court involvement.
We also provide legal services to youth who are incarcerated in our state’s juvenile prisons through our Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR) Institutions and Reentry Project. To learn more or to request services for youth who are currently incarcerated in a JR institution or community facility, please view this document.
TeamChild’s legal services are free. Since starting as a pilot project in 1995, TeamChild has received over 13,000 referrals and served close to 10,000 youth in Washington State.
Anyone can make a request for TeamChild services. We accept referrals by:
Have questions? Contact any of our offices. If the youth and family need language or other assistance in communicating with our office, please clearly indicate these needs when making your referral.
Once we receive a referral, we will follow up with the referral source and contact the youth directly to talk about the legal services we offer.
I met Sam after her public defender referred her to TeamChild. I learned that Sam was in juvenile court because she pushed a police officer after he had slammed her brother to the ground during an arrest. Sam plead guilty to assaulting the officer and avoided juvenile prison through an alternative disposition.* A few months later, her probation officer set a court hearing to revoke this alternative disposition. Sam was struggling in middle school and her suspensions and expulsions violated the conditions of the alternative disposition.
When I met with Sam, who had a special education plan because of disabilities, she said she needed more help and different strategies. Here’s how systems can work against youth: insufficient supports lead to expulsions which result in jail time. We stepped in. I reviewed Sam’s special education program and brought the school’s attention to the ways in which it had not met its duties under federal special education law. As a result of this advocacy and a formal complaint, the school made major changes to Sam’s program and offered her hundreds of hours in tutoring to help her catch up after missing so much school.
I stood with Sam at the juvenile court hearing and explained to the judge that Sam’s problems in school stemmed from how the school had fallen short of its obligation to support her. I shared information about Sam’s new special education program, and the additional tutoring she would get. The judge did not revoke the alternative disposition, recognizing how the school had fallen short. Our advocacy gave Sam a second chance. She was able to meet all of the court’s expectations, avoid incarceration, successfully put her juvenile court matter behind her, and move on with her life.
*”Disposition” is what juvenile courts in Washington call the “sentence” in a juvenile criminal case
"I can’t thank you enough for helping me in a time of need and great confusion. For the past year I have known exactly what I wanted but had no idea who to turn for solid advice. Because of you and the Guardian At Litem’s support and help I no longer have to live every day in fear of where I will be taken to. For the first time in my life I am able to plan my future with confidence and not in paranoia. I’m not trying to fool anyone by saying that life is easy because it definitely has its challenges but what definitely makes it simpler is feeling safe and secure. I can’t thank you enough for that feeling, but I just wanted to let you know you have made an amazing impact on my life."
"I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for all you have done for Derek over the years, and I know that if it was not for your intervention he would not have made it through the years. Derek has successfully graduated from high school. This was by far my most proudest moment as his mother, there has been many times that I thought Derek would just give up and drop out but thanks to other people working on his behalf as hard or harder than he could ever imagine he stuck with it."
"Since I was 12 years old you have been there for me. Most of my court dates, helping me when I would be in juvie, not judging me for coming back multiple times, and helping me to get my tattoos removed. You have tried to do anything possible to help me in any way you can. Having you believe in me and not give up on me was enough to make me realize I can do more for myself. It’s nice to have people like you on my side."