Name of Host Organization: South Texas College of Law, Randall O. Sorrels Legal Clinic
City, State: Houston, Texas
Issue area: Children/Youth
Sponsors: Texas Access to Justice Foundation
Stephanie provided legal advocacy and support to youth aging out of foster care in Harris County, Texas, to improve their social, educa-tional, and occupational opportunities in adulthood.
Need Addressed By Project
In 2011, Harris County had 2,630 youth in long-term foster care. Judges rarely appoint attorneys to these cases due to budgetary constraints and limited resources and when they do, there are no uniform court practices established to ensure proper representation and case oversight. Many of these youth age out of the system without the resources or support necessary to obtain employment, higher education, or housing, leading to high risk for homelessness, drug abuse, mental health issues, and contact with the criminal justice system. Most youth have no advocate to help them transition out of the foster care system, resulting in many youth suffering from unidentified problems and insufficient support, which ultimately hinders their ability to live independently.