Photo of Jilisa Milton

Jilisa Milton

  • Hosted by Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program
  • Sponsored by Alabama Civil Justice Foundation
  • Service location Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Law school University of Alabama School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Disability Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Jilisa will protect the rights of children with disabilities in Alabama’s Black Belt through individual and systemic advocacy with juvenile courts, the state’s Medicaid system, and local school systems.

Alabama’s Black Belt counties are part of a larger, national Black Belt region that stretches from Texas to Virginia. This region derives its name from the rich soil for which it is known. Although it has a history of plantation use, the region has also been the site of significant advances in the struggle for civil rights. Issues affecting the region include declining populations, a primarily agricultural landscape with low-density settlement, high unemployment, and significant lack of access to education and medical care. The Black Belt Disability Justice Project (BBJDP) will protect the civil rights of children with disabilities in this region, who are affected by over-representation in the juvenile justice and foster care systems; the State’s failure to provide necessary mental health and behavioral services to eligible children; and shortcomings in the care and services provided by the State’s licensed residential treatment facilities.

Jilisa, an Alabama native, is the University of Alabama’s first joint JD/Master of Social Work graduate. She will draw from her work in civil rights litigation, mental health treatment, criminal justice reform, and community engagement to implement and execute this project. Jilisa has previously worked with children who have severe emotional disorders and was a staff supervisor at an inpatient treatment facility for children with severe emotional disorders.

Fellowship Plans

Jilisa will provide individual and systemic advocacy related to: ensuring that children involved in/at-risk of involvement in delinquency and dependency proceedings have their disability-related needs addressed; ensuring that Medicaid-eligible children are provided appropriate mental health services in compliance with a recent Settlement Agreement between Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program and the State; investigating the well-being of children placed in residential facilities and securing less restrictive placements where possible; and advocating for the provision of appropriate educational services to students.

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Host: Advocacy, Inc.

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Host: Advocacy, Inc. of Texas (Houston Office)

Sponsor: Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation

Jaynie Leung

Host: Children's Law Center of Minnesota

Sponsor: Robins Kaplan LLP

Sara Zimmerman

Host: Disability Rights Advocates

Sponsor: Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP