The American Bar Association explained that lawyers play a critical role in improving outcomes for homeless youth by enforcing existing laws as well as advancing new policy and removing legal barriers to benefits, education, employment, health care, housing, identification, treatment and services. In an effort to increase legal services for this vulnerable population, the ABA Commission on Homelessness & Poverty, Commission on Youth at Risk and Section of Litigation Children’s Rights Litigation Committee has officially launched the ABA Homeless Youth Legal Network.
HYLN is designed to serve homeless youth seeking legal assistance, service providers working with homeless youth and lawyers seeking training or technical assistance. ‘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. ‘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.’
In the past few months, the HYLN has launched a website, which contains additional information about the network, and will be a repository for resources related to meeting homeless youth’s legal needs. It has also surveyed more than 300 individuals and groups about the legal needs of youth in their community and launched a listserv for attorneys and other advocates for homeless youth with more than 250 members. In addition it has also begun providing training and technical assistance to legal services providers and homelessness programs.
Model programmes across the US
The Homeless Youth Legal Network has identified 12 model programs across the country to highlight promising practices, and to illustrate the value of providing legal services to homeless youth. These programs 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 in Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Utah, Connecticut, Washington, Minnestota, New Mexico and New York.
About the ABA
With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organisations in the world.