On Monday, the ABA announced the launch of the Homeless Youth Legal Network, meant to assist with the needs of homeless youth and the attorneys and social work groups who serve them.
The network is a project of the ABA Coordinating Committee on the Legal Needs of Homeless Youth, and involves more than 20 ABA entities. It’s meant to serve three groups: homeless youth seeking legal assistance; lawyers seeking special training or technical assistance to work with homeless youth; and service providers who work with homeless youth.
It is intended to help children, teens and young adults through the age of 25.
“The Homeless Youth Legal Network is a fine example of how the American Bar Association can link youth experiencing homelessness with experts in the legal community who can help,” ABA President Linda A. Klein said in a press release.
“This project, made possible with a grant from the ABA Enterprise Fund, shows how we can harness the power and reach of the ABA to improve access to justice by providing much-needed legal assistance to vulnerable populations.”
According to researchers, nearly 8 percent of all children and teens experience homelessness at some point, the ABA reports. Homeless youth can need legal help to access benefits, education, employment, health care, housing, identification, treatment and services.
The Homeless Youth Legal Network will also address civil legal needs and juvenile and criminal defense needs.
In addition to a new website, the Homeless Youth Legal Network has conducted surveys of more than 300 individuals and groups about the legal needs of homeless children and teens, and compiled a group email list which currently boasts 250 members.
It has also identified 12 model programs nationwide which will “document best practices, serve as models for replication, provide technical assistance to emerging programs and share data on legal barriers and improved outcomes resulting from legal advocacy.”
This will also inform the training courses which the Homeless Youth Legal Network will offer for legal service providers and people running homelessness programs.