Recently, Children’s Law Center was featured in a Washington Lawyer piece on legal access for the District’s most underserved communities. Many of the issues surround homelessness, rising rent and housing conditions. The D.C. Access to Justice Commission is the organization in D.C. tasked with breaking down the disparities in access. Washington Lawyer reached out to Children’s Law Center Executive Director Judith Sandalow for insight.
"The legal services organizations are the backbone for the access to justice movement," says Judith Sandalow, executive director of the Children's Law Center. "We combine on-the-ground knowledge of what residents' needs are with the capacity to translate that into law . . . the funding really makes a difference."
It was clear that obtaining support from the D.C. government would be a crucial step in decreasing gaps in the delivery of legal services. The Commission began lobbying then D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and bringing their case before the D.C. Council, educating city officials about the need for funding and the benefits of providing civil legal services to the city's most vulnerable people.
The Commission is not resting on its laurels, however;it is well aware that there are many challenges ahead to make access to justice a reality for all.
"As wonderful as the Commission is, the District still continues to face a crisis," says Sandalow. "It continues to be a tale of two cities: A child born in Ward 8 has a much harder road than a child born in Ward 3. There's a long road ahead of us . . . There is much more to do."
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