Anna Moss

  • Hosted by Legal Aid Society of New York
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school City University of New York School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Anna provides client-centered legal representation and systemic advocacy to reduce undue institutionalization and ensure adolescent youth in congregate care have connections to trusted adults.

In New York City in 2018, over half of the 649 youth who aged out of foster care without family had no permanent connection to a caring adult, against statutory requirements. Research shows that the single most common factor in youth who develop resilience is a stable relationship with a committed adult. Older youth in group settings are particularly isolated from opportunities to create and maintain long-term supportive relationships.

In her five years as a foster parent, Anna witnessed the child welfare system habitually devalue the lives of older foster youth. She knew these youth would attain justice only through a specialized legal strategy that honored their lived experience and engaged them as leaders on their own path.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Anna has:

  • Provided full representation to 18 youth in foster care, focusing on transition-aged youth with Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) goals
  • Consulted with attorneys and social workers on 16 additional cases where social support and discharge planning issues were identified
  • Implemented a novel Residential Treatment Center (RTC) Visiting Program to connect clients isolated in congregate care during the pandemic with trial court advocates; this scalable model bridges the gap between clients and attorneys and supports the Special Litigation and Law Reform Unit’s systemic advocacy
  • Assisting the Juvenile Rights Practice (JRP) prepare for the September 2021 implementation of the federal Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) in New York by creating trainings and litigation tools to meet new judicial review requirements and advocate against undue institutionalization

Next Steps

In the next year, Anna plans to:

  • Support JRP’s response to FFPSA by reflecting on courtroom strategies and developing resources to assist attorneys to advocate for community placements for youth in foster care
  • Expand the RTC Visiting Program to translate the legal positions of JRP clients to their trial court teams and monitor congregate care conditions for further systemic responses
  • Explore creative litigation and negotiation strategies in expanding direct representation caseload while generating tools for JRP to mitigate clients’ disconnection from their communities

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Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP, The Florida Bar Foundation

Lauren Zack

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Sponsor: Latham & Watkins LLP, Spotify