Giving Every Child A Chance
Recently, we assisted Spanish-speaking parents of a first-grade boy who was frequently sent to the principal’s office because of his behavior issues. The parents were critical of the school district’s response, their efforts to educate their son and mistrustful of their proposed evaluation. KidLaw Center attorney Nina Peckman helped the parents work with the district and understand the benefits of the child study team evaluation process. Together, they were able to create a plan that included speech, language and behavior services for the child, as well as parent training.
The KidLaw Resource Center provides its services for free. We rely on donations from caring individuals like you to help hundreds of families across New Jersey every year.
If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, please contact:
Mary Coogan, Esq.
Assistant Director, ACNJ /
KidLaw Resource Center Director
973-643-3876 Ext. 220
Nina Peckman, Esq.
KidLaw Resource Center Attorney
973-643-3876 Ext. 226
For more information please visit our websites:
2013 KidLaw Resource Center Update
Need help getting your child the special education services they need? Have an issue with the state’s child protection system (formerly DYFS)? Are you a professional who works with kids and needs training in certain areas of laws about the education of New Jersey’s children?
Where should you go? Each year, Advocates for Children’s KidLaw Resource Center helps hundreds of parents, caretakers and people who work with children navigate the complex laws and policies surrounding children, especially those with special needs and other issues. In 2012, the KidLaw Center assisted 600 parents and caregivers. In 2013, requests continue to increase with more families seeking our help every day.
The center’s attorneys help parents and caretakers understand and secure their child’s legal rights so they get the services they need to grow up safe, healthy and educated. Nearly all cases involve a child who is disadvantaged because of their special education needs, a disability, poverty, homelessness or their involvement with New Jersey’s foster care or mental health systems.
Spurring Widespread Change to Help Kids
In addition to helping individual families, the KidLaw Center and ACNJ advocate for broad policy changes that help thousands of children and families. For example, in December 2012, ACNJ drew attention to the special needs of infants and toddlers living in foster care in our report The Littlest Victims.
The report called for training judges, attorneys and other court participants on the particular needs of infants and toddlers. To help address this need, ACNJ is producing short training videos on topics such as the impact of trauma on young children’s brain development, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, developmental milestones of infants and toddlers and reducing trauma for young children in the child welfare system. These video-taped webinars will be available to professionals assisting in child abuse and neglect cases, as well as the general public, in October 2013.
Helping Foster Youth Have a Say
Children in foster care are particularly vulnerable and should, when appropriate, be involved in the decisions that affect their lives. While the law allows them to attend court hearings at which many of these decisions are made, this fails to happen on a regular basis. This issue gained steam after ACNJ released a report in 2011 documenting the problem.
Since then, ACNJ’s Assistant Director and Legal Center Attorney, Mary Coogan focused on this issue with members of a statewide committee working to improve court policies and procedures that impact children living in foster care. As a result of this work, a pilot is planned in three counties that aims to increase foster youth participation in court hearings. The plan is to roll this out statewide in the coming year. This is good news for youth and their families.
Want to learn more? Need help? Visit www.kidlaw.org, where you will find many resources, including guides and fact sheets on special education, foster care and other critical issues for children and families.