Alayna Bartko

  • Hosted by KidsVoice
  • Sponsored by PNC Bank, Reed Smith LLP
  • Service location Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Law school University of Pittsburgh School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Opioid Epidemic
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Alayna established an innovative and replicable advocacy program providing specialized legal support to children whose parents struggle with opioid addiction and are involved in juvenile court dependency cases.

In Allegheny County, KidsVoice has seen a 300­child increase in the number of children involved in dependency cases due to opioids. Though opioid addiction is on the rise, it is possible for people to recover and lead more stable lives while providing better parental care; by keeping children in the home with their families and providing 24/7 support, further trauma will be prevented and children will be ensured safety. During her Fellowship, Alayna was assigned to a specialized group of cases involving children and their families who were impacted by parental substance use and the opioid epidemic.

Fellowship Highlights

Alayna acquired specialized knowledge on dependency issues related to parental substance use and identified cases in which it was possible for children to remain in their parents’ care while they received the necessary treatment and supervision to ensure the entire family’s safety.

Alayna was a member of two task forces and during her time with one of those groups, she collaborated with system leaders in fields of child welfare, drug and alcohol, and healthcare in order to develop a county-wide protocol for infants born affected by substance use or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, pursuant to federal and state laws.
Alayna created resources on subjects including Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and sobriety, in collaboration with subject-matter professionals, which will be utilized by child advocates and judicial professionals for years after her fellowship ends.

Next Steps

Following her Fellowship, Alayna will remain at KidsVoice as a Staff Attorney. She is excited to have the opportunity to continue working on her current caseload, which consists of dependent children impacted by the opioid epidemic. Alayna will also take on additional cases that will further enhance her competency as a dependency guardian ad litem attorney.

I have always been drawn to work that involves advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Children impacted by the opioid epidemic deserve staunch advocates in their corner and I am proud that it gets to be me.

Alayna Bartko /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

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