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2005 July - August

Health Care for Adolescents

Ensuring Access, Protecting Privacy

By Abigail English

Adolescents' access to health care through Medicaid, a State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), or publicly funded health program needs to be maintained and expanded. Adolescents may also face barriers associated with consent to and confidentiality of health care. New federal medical privacy rules issues under the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) offer adolescents new confidentiality rights.

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Center for Children's Advocacy

Providing Holistic Legal Services to Children in Their Communities

By Martha Stone, Stacey Violante Cote, Christina Ghio, Ann-Marie DeGraffenreidt, Jay Sicklick & Lori Nordstrom

Although children living in poverty need service-delivery systems that give care in a responsive and integrated way, service delivery traditionally has been compartmentalized. The Center for Children's Advocacy in Connecticut provides holistic legal services to children in their communities and improves the quality of legal representation of children through innovative interdisciplinary models and training programs.

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Preparing Vulnerable Youth for Adulthood Through Youth Workforce Development

By Joe Scantlebury, David E. Brown, Kate O'Sullivan & Mala B.Thakur

The Workforce Investment Act youth program mandates services for vulnerable young people 14 to 21. Services range from tutoring to occupational skills training to leadership development. The Promising and Effective Practices Network has identified the key elements of effective youth programs and developed tools to help organizations establish, connect to, and promote quality programs. Legal advocates in the child-welfare, education, and juvenile justice systems can ensure that courts and other authorities know about the local employment resources and incorporate long-term employment readiness in the plans that they craft for disconnected young people.

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Making the Case for Restorative Justice

By Cheryl M. Graves, Donyelle L. Gray & Ora Schub

Restorative justice, rooted in indigenous traditions around the world, offers an alternative to the traditional Western model of responding to conflict with retributive justice. Particularly in low-income communities of color, restorative justice practices can be effectively used to avoid funneling young people into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Restorative justice principles may be applied in juvenile justice and in school settings.

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Beyond the Death Penalty

Implications of Adolescent Development Research for the Prosecution, Defense, and Sanctioning of Youthful Offenders

By Nina W. Chernoff & Marsha L. Levick

In Roper v. Simmons the U.S. Supreme Court relied in part on studies of adolescents' decision-making capacity to hold the execution of juvenile offenders unconstitutional. The Roper decision and the underlying studies should broadly inform the prosecution and punishment of juveniles. Juveniles' diminished culpability and developmental characteristics make severe punishments inappropriate, bear on the elements of some criminal offenses, compel closer scrutiny of a juvenile's waiver of due process rights, and reinforce the importance of a separate justice system for juveniles.

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Meeting the Civil Legal Needs of Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System

By Anne Lee & Brent Pattison

Many young people involved with the juvenile justice system also have important civil legal needs. However, a gap persists between public defense and civil legal assistance for low-income youth. TeamChild in Washington State attempts to bridge that gap, both in its legal practice and in this article discussing some of the practical challenges presented by civil legal advocacy for juvenile court-involved youth and presenting practice strategies for challenging school discipline and asserting rights to Medicaid and Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment Services.

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Improving TANF for Teens

By Jodie Levin-Epstein & Angie Schwartz

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program requires teen parents in most cases to attend school and to live with a parent or other adult. While these rules may constitute good policy generally, their across-the-board application can be harmful. Focusing on teen parents, TANF programs tend to overlook the needs of nonparenting teens in TANF and other low-income families. Legal aid programs should reach out to this underserved population to ensure that teens receive necessary services and support.

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Youth in the Digital Era

By Gabrielle Hammond

Technology in all its forms is an integral and natural part of young people's lives, constituting a "new normal." The digital divide is now rooted more in age than income level. Young people in low-income families are nearly as likely as their wealthier counterparts to have access to technology at school. Legal aid programs must adapt to these clients'familiarity with and expectations regarding technology as a way to communicate and to offer information and services.

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Adolescents, the Foster Care System, and the Transition to Adulthood

What Legal Aid Lawyers Need to Know

By Alice Bussiere, Jennifer Pokempner & Jennifer Troia

Adolescents in the foster care system face enormous challenges. Recent legislative agendas have improved the road to independent living for foster youth. Proper support and guidance from child welfare professionals and legal advocates can ensure a foster youth's successful journey into adulthood.

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Working with Teen Victims of Domestic and Dating Violence

By Liza Siebel

Young people are among the most likely to experience violence in their intimate relationships, yet few agencies are equipped to meet their complex needs. State laws governing civil domestic-violence restraining or protective orders often fail to protect young—especially minor—victims fully. Comprehensive legal representation and sensitivity to teens' unique circumstances are critical to guide this vulnerable population through civil and criminal court proceedings and to help keep them safe.

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Illinois Advocates Promote School Success and Safety for Young People Who Are Expectant Parents, Parents, or Victims of Domestic or Sexual Violence

By Aleeza Strubel & Wendy Pollack

A neglected aspect of the alarming school dropout and push-out trend is the difficulty that young people who are expectant parents, parents, or the victims of domestic violence encounter as they struggle to remain in school. Advocating on their behalf, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, in coalition with other organizations, has drafted for the Illinois General Assembly the Ensuring Success in School Act to recognize, among others, the right of such students to complete school.

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Combating the Schoolhouse-to-Jailhouse Track Through Community Lawyering

By Monique L. Dixon

Because America's schools are relying more and more on a law-and-order approach to school discipline, mostly students of color are being pushed off an academic track to a future in the juvenile justice system—the schoolhouse-to-jailhouse track. Community education and legal advocacy can redirect the law enforcement trend by exposing racial disparities and proposing school-reform and community-based alternatives to school systems.

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Young People in Poverty

By Wendy Pollack & Margaret Stapleton

Many adolescents and young adults living in poverty are in trouble in both the short and the long run. The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law explains why it is focusing this 2005 special issue on youth in poverty and encourages advocates to apply creative thinking and creative advocacy (in the manner of Sargent Shriver) on behalf of young people.

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