"The volunteer lawyers made my family complete. Without them, I don't know what I would have done. They were a godsend."
- School-based Children's Project Client, 2013
The School-based Children’s Project helps low-income families resolve legal problems that interfere with their children's ability to learn. We do this by building relationships between law firms and public schools. Volunteer lawyers from the firms become part of an interdisciplinary team of parents, administrators, teachers, and social workers, which helps children succeed.
Children from low-income families often face serious difficulties in their lives that affect their ability to succeed in school, including evictions; dangerous or unhealthy building conditions; loss of crucial government benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid; and immigration issues. These problems cause a great deal of stress in families and may directly disrupt a child's education. Volunteer lawyers can resolve many of these problems.
For example, a family facing eviction may have to go through the homeless shelter system or move to a different neighborhood, halting the child's education in the short-term and possibly forcing the child to switch schools. A volunteer lawyer can intervene to stop the eviction and keep the child in the school that she or he has been attending.
We recruit law firms and match them with participating schools. Working with the firms, we organize workshops and conduct outreach about the project for parents, school administrators, teachers, and students. We also provide workshops for school staff on substantive legal issues such as immigration and housing.
Parents and students can access free, high-quality legal assistance either by attending legal clinics at the schools or by contacting a designated point-person at the school who can refer matters to a matched law firm.
A mother was facing eviction for nonpayment of rent. The landlord was asking for much more in back rent than she thought she owed. At her child’s school, she found help from volunteer lawyers from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett through the School-based Children's Project. The Simpson volunteers discovered that the landlord had overcharged her significantly, and proceeded to defend her in Housing Court. After months of work, they were able to negotiate a settlement with her landlord that significantly reduced the mother's back rent, required the landlord to make significant repairs to the apartment, and secured a new lease for her.