Projects, Units & Initiatives
Adolescent Practice Teams
The expertise and tenacity of our borough-based Adolescent Practice Teams empower older youth in foster care, ensuring that they receive every available support and legal entitlement while in placement and as they transition to adulthood and independence.
The Adolescent Practice Team identified point persons in each office to collect information on clients’ issues and concerns, such as clients displaced from the CUNY Dorms, clients who were exposed or tested positive for COVID-19, and clients who lost their jobs or placements. The team worked in coalition and independently to advocate for clients for appropriate placements and for better access to meaningful supports during this crisis. We developed a list of resources for our clients and maintained updates in our APT COVID response page for staff to access. In addition to working with our COVID-19 response team and Special Litigation Unit on global issues impacting our clients, we also collaborated with other units, including Immigration and Housing to address our clients’ specific needs. The “COVID” APT team continues to meet weekly, and the larger APT team monthly, to discuss effective ways to keep our clients in safe environments and to ensure that their needs are being met. Our continuing goal is to serve our clients who have been impacted by this pandemic by providing resources and intervening on their behalf with outside agencies.
History of the Adolescent Practice Team (APT)
The Adolescent Practice Team (APT) began in Juvenile Rights Practice’s (JRP) Manhattan trial office in 2007, when an interdisciplinary group formed to focus on advocacy for young people leaving foster care. In 2008, the team expanded to include members from the Brooklyn and Queens trial offices as well. Later the team grew and now includes members from the Bronx trial office, the Staten Island trial office, and JRP’s Special Litigation and Law Reform Unit. Today, APT has a presence in every JRP office and participation from supervisors and staff, including attorneys, social workers, and paralegals.
The goal in developing APT was to correct an injustice in New York City’s treatment of adolescents and young people leaving foster care, many of whom were under-served in the system and experienced uneven and sometimes tragic outcomes after leaving foster care. JRP chose to address this by empowering team members from different disciplines to gain expertise in representing this population, mainly clients with a goal of APPLA (Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement) and to share their knowledge and resources throughout the practice, thereby enhancing advocacy in individual clients’ cases. As the team grew in size and expertise, it was able to develop practice tools such as model motions, training for new and experienced staff, adolescent timelines and checklists, and “Know Your Rights” brochures for clients. The mission of APT also grew to include impact litigation and other large-scale reform efforts.
How does APT work?
Regular citywide meetings are held at JRP’s central office to share resources and practice updates, collaborate on litigation strategies, and develop training and advocacy tools to ensure the highest-quality legal representation for all of JRP’s adolescent clients. Within the trial offices, APT members offer training, disseminate resources and practice updates, consult on cases, and hold office hours. APT members also have accompanied clients to NYCHA appointments, helped clients fill out housing, college, and financial aid applications, connected clients with camps, activities, SAT prep, and job opportunities, and intervened with agencies, caregivers, and others to support advocate for adolescent clients who are in crisis.
APT members are a group of Juveniles Rights Practice staff and supervisors with a special interest in serving JRP’s adolescent clients. They are paralegals, social workers, and attorneys from JRP’s trial offices and its central SLLRU (Special Litigation and Law Reform Unit). APT members are involved in numerous workgroups, committees, coalitions, and partnerships, including
- Family Court APPLA committees and workgroups
- ACS/Advocates Reform Committees
- Bar association trainings
- Family Court Teen Day committees
- Youth Panels
- FYSA (Fostering Youth Success Alliance)
- CUNY Foster Care Collaborative
- Northeast Leadership Collaborative
- Little Essentials
APT members train JRP staff on entitlements, healthcare, education, and housing for adolescents in and leaving foster care, as well as interviewing skills, resources for expecting and parenting youth, opposing warrants and handling arrests, and other topics. They also lecture on adolescent representation at CUNY Law School, St. Johns Law School, and Columbia Law School, among others.
APT members advocate for reforms to laws and policies impacting adolescents and young people in and leaving foster care, including testimony before the NY City Council and NYS Assembly, drafting legislation, commenting on NYC and NYS policies and regulations, and meeting with NYC and NYS agencies to effectuate change.
The representation and advocacy of APT staff and attorneys helped:
- Reunify a mother with her son after advocating for an early end to the mother’s probation and a resolution to her immigration issues
- A young mother, dealing with serious illness, secure specialized housing for her and her children as well as attain job training and enrollment in a GED program
- Negotiate the deferment of college enrollment for a young woman until she was ready, and the establishment of adequate support systems ready to assist her on her first day.
- Advocated for our APT client to be reunited with her sibling who was adopted.
- At the client’s request, we advocated for our 18-year-old client to re-enter foster care after becoming homeless. Upon re-entry our client focused on graduating high school, getting his driver’s license, and applying for housing.