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Children's Law Center executive director Judith Sandalow contributes regular essays to the DC section of The Huffington Post. Find recent posts here.
Last year Children's Law Center published a plan with practical recommendations to improve the children's mental health system in the District. Today, Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, we are releasing a report card that assesses progress in the areas outlined in our plan.
For many high school seniors, April is decision time -- college acceptance letters in hand, they will weigh their options. But for students from low-income families or in foster care, the question is how and even if they're going to go to college, not where.
School Vacations and the Achievement Gap: Breaking the Connection (March 29, 2013)
The "brain drain" of summer is a sibling of the achievement gap, and they build off each other. Low-income children lose between one and three months of learning over summer breaks in elementary school, while their wealthier peers do not.
Paving the Way for Children (January 15, 2013)
This extension of the grandparent caregiver program should be the first of many steps taken by the District in 2013 to strengthen our families.
New Council Can Turn the Corner for Children (January 10, 2013)
I also urge every member of the council to refresh your committment to the District's children and families so that we can all turn the corner together and no one is left behind. Please set a goal of improving our entire city, not just the reputation of the council.
It Takes a Village of Donors (December 10, 2012)
You've heard the familiar adage that it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to support the work of the many terrific nonprofits that serve our most vulnerable neighbors. A gift of any size is worth giving.
Celebrating Families on Adoption Day (November 21, 2012)
I'd like to propose that we use Adoption Day and Adoption Month to celebrate all of those families created not just through adoption -- but also through other legal avenues such as custody and adoption. Because, in the end, Adoption Day and Month are really about celebrating family -- and the importance of every child having the unconditional love and lifelong support that is what all of us hope a family will be.
Smart Investment: Children's Mental Health (November 15, 2012)
Many of our recommendations -- like streamlining the structure of children's mental health care -- don't require new money. But it will take some additional funds to create a better mental health system for our children. We want the city's decision makers to keep children's mental health in mind as they allocate D.C.'s dollars.
Toward One City: Getting to Know Each Other (October 25, 2012)
As we celebrate National Pro Bono Week, and the D.C. legal community's vibrant pro bono culture, I've been thinking not only about how about the way this works helps our clients, but also the benefits it brings to the pro bono lawyers.
Helping Children Soar With Educational Advocacy (October 1, 2012)
Sky reminded me that a failure to invest in all of the children in our community will rob us of the talents and skills of those we leave behind.
Helping Children Build Skills for School Success (August 24, 2012)
Getting ready for school means more than purchasing notebooks, pencils, and a backpack. Being truly prepared for school means that students walk into their first classroom having already developed important skills that allow them to learn.
No D.C. student commutes to school barefoot in the snow and uphill both ways -- but we've seen many children whose trip may be the real-life local counterpart to that worn joke, only much less comic.
An Ounce of Prevention for Teen Pregnancy (July 12, 2012)
Preventing at-risk children from maltreatment -- and accordingly, from entering the foster care system -- is the trickier job in many ways. There is no silver bullet. But seeing that more than three-quarters of new CFSA cases come from families that began as teen pregnancies, the District should focus preventive services on these families through a multi-agency effort.
Violence Highlights Need for Children's Mental Health Services (June 27, 2012)
Growing up in the District of Columbia can be like growing up in a war zone. Every day, battles rage between adults within homes and on city streets, and far too often children bear witness to this violence.
Suspended Disbelief (February 15, 2012)
Unable to concentrate at school with their basic needs unmet, elementary school-aged children may act out in a way that disrupts their classroom environment. But suspensions don't feed a hungry child, give a tired child a good night's sleep or teach a dyslexic child to read.
Why We Never Give Up (January 27, 2012)
Charline's birth parents gave up on her. Charline's adoptive mother gave up on her. Charline had even given up on herself. But Gabby never did.
Actions and Action Figures: Gift Giving as Brain Development (December 27, 2011)
The impact of feeling loved on the ability to learn is not understood nearly as well. But research shows increasingly that healthy brain development can't happen without the kind of love that builds attachment.
Giving Teens a Place in Our Community (December 12, 2011)
At Children's Law Center, we meet teens every day who are in crisis -- suicidal, homeless, out-of-control. I believe these young people are twice victims: victims of extreme poverty, untreated mental illness and violent family life, as well as victims of a society which is at best ambivalent about adolescence.
“Children's Law Center is our best organizational partner and we turn to them often for legal guidance and support. When I think of CLC I think of their unique expertise and extensive knowledge, their generosity in sharing that knowledge with our community, and their integrity in conducting this important work. The lives of the children and families they serve are significantly improved because CLC exists.”
Foster & Adoptive Parent Advocacy Center (FAPAC)