Host: Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia
Alyssa (she/her/hers) will advocate on behalf of survivors of domestic violence by representing them in both the early stages of their child welfare cases—a form of preventative legal representation—and in their family law matters.
In Massachusetts, low-income survivors of domestic violence, many of whom are people of color, are not guaranteed representation in this early stage of a child welfare case, putting their rights to their children at risk. Alyssa’s project addresses this need by providing early, prophylactic representation to survivors of domestic violence embroiled in the child welfare system to protect their rights and to prevent further exacerbation of trauma and poverty.
Alyssa is inspired by the survivors that she has worked with and is driven by a firm belief in keeping families together to prevent further poverty and trauma.
During her Fellowship, Alyssa will provide individual representation to survivors of domestic violence in both the early stages of their child welfare cases and in their family law matters. She will also develop and deliver “know your rights” trainings for survivors of domestic violence who are involved with the child welfare system.
As her representation continues, she will identify the outcomes of these domestic violence cases within the child welfare system to identify system-wide policies or policy implementations that are harmful to survivors of domestic violence.
Throughout the Fellowship, Alyssa will also create new relationships between domestic violence advocates and the child welfare system to foster collaboration on efforts toward systemic reform.
The survivors of domestic violence that I work with are incredibly devoted to their families and their children. I try to match that passion in protecting survivors’ rights and keeping their families together.
Alyssa Rao /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow