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Children's Law Center's Essays for The Huffington Post


Children's Law Center executive director Judith Sandalow contributes regular essays to the DC section of The Huffington Post. Find recent posts here.


A Better Ending for the "Invisible Child" (December 20, 2013)

The New York Times series on Dasani paints a picture that is not hopeless. Dasani's smarts and pluck and her strong ties to her family and teachers help her get through what many would find unbearable. She is an amazing girl.


Celebrating Success for Children in Foster Care on Adoption Day (November 27, 2013)

I celebrate with these families on Adoption Day, but I also always feel a measure of sadness because I know the children being adopted have experienced such devastating trauma: abuse or neglect and then removal from their birth families.


Helping Kevin Recover From Trauma (November 21, 2013)

In the past, there would be few options left for kids like Kevin. He would have continued to bounce from one foster setting to another without much chance of getting better.


How Our Legal Advocacy Helps a Child, a Family, and the Community (September 26, 2013)

I asked Ms. Washington to speak at the Benefit not only because of the obstacles she faced before she came to Children's Law Center, nor because of the incredible improvement there has been in Journey's and her own life since they received our help. I wanted Ms. Washington to share her story because, empowered by her experience, she has gone on to help innumerable others.


Which Son Needs Money More? The Decisions of a Low-Income Working Mother (September 9, 2013)

I can't imagine having to choose between medicine for one son or high school graduation for another. To be confronted by decisions like this every day - or even several times a month - must be truly exhausting and mentally taxing, as the recent research suggests. But Ms. P is amazingly adept at making these tough decisions.


A Simple, Powerful Service for Young Children: Home Visiting (August 2, 2013)

Dr. García, now that you're taking the lead at the Department of Health, we hope that you will prioritize this home visiting work so that the funds your department worked so hard to win aren't lost.


Suspensions: The Wrong Answer for DC Students (June 27, 2013)

Suspension, by its nature, distances a child from school. Instead of helping children academically, suspension deprives them of instruction. Instead of the positive peer pressure from school-engaged peers, suspended students are sent home to socialize with whomever else is out of school in their neighborhood.


Pushing for More Progress in the District's Children's Mental Health System (May 8, 2013)

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.


College Decision Time: Preparing Low-Income Students for Higher Education (April 23, 2013)

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.


Uphill Both Ways: Transportation for Special Education Students in DC (August 9, 2012)

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.

I will never forget my clients … in fact, I still have their picture on the wall in my office, because it really helps me to put into perspective my work and the work of the Children’s Law Center.

-Carmen G. McLean
Partner, Jones Day
Member, CLC Board of Directors
CLC Pro Bono attorney


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