2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Erica Carroll

Erica Carroll

Name of Host Organization: Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice
City, State: Los Angeles, California
Issue area: Children/Youth, Family Law
Sponsors: Greenberg Traurig, LLP

The Project

Erica provided comprehensive family law services and education, to pregnant, current parenting, and former foster youth; in order to retain custody and visitation, with their children and break the intergenerational cycle of foster care.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Teen parents confront many challenges including education, child care, housing, and custody. This is all the truer, for pregnant and parenting foster youth—and those recently aged out of the foster care system—who additionally face systemic barriers and often lack family support. Children of parenting foster youth are removed from their parents and placed in foster care themselves at a rate five times higher than the general population. This perpetuates an intergenerational cycle of foster care that causes trauma and destroys family relationships. Family law representation, combined with education about parental rights and responsibilities, provides an element of stability in the lives of pregnant and parenting foster youth, preserving important parent-child relationships.
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Erica has:
• Provided representation in paternity, custody and visitation, child support, restraining order and guardianship hearings for clients involved in complex and intractable cases.
• Developed know-your-right’s presentation for young parents in foster care, providing education and legal information about parental rights and the family law system to over 150 people.
• Presented on her project to local service providers to highlight the need for family law services among this population and to facilitate connecting young parents to legal services.
• Implemented holistic services by working with clients and social work staff to address a range of legal and ancillary issues beyond the clients’ family law cases.
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Erica plans to:
• Continue working at her host organization, to provide family law education and representation to young parents.
• Expand her practice focus, to reach survivors of interpersonal violence generally.
• Encourage further integration of holistic services to better meet client needs.

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