Joonu-Noel Andrews Coste

  • Hosted by Disability Rights North Carolina
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Law school Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Disability Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Joonu-Noel will empower families and communities by reducing over-reliance on Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities and ending the “PRTF-to-prison pipeline” in North Carolina through direct representation, impact litigation, education, and legislation.

Youth are harmed when PRTFs fail to provide required special education services, required total hours of schooling, and the mandated Standard Course of Study. Youth placed in PRTFs are disproportionately minority, economically disadvantaged, and have disabilities in addition to a mental health condition or addiction. They often struggle when they attempt to return to school and drop out or are effectively pushed out. Parents want tools to advocate on behalf of their children. Community organizations want to build capacity to strategically bring their concerns about extremely limited numbers of community-based treatment options for their youth to local leaders and lawmakers.

Many autistic individuals have difficulty communicating verbally and are dismissed as having nothing to say. As a mother to three children, two of whom are autistic, Joonu-Noel has experienced stigma and many challenges while advocating for her children. That experience inspired her to attend law school to elevate and amplify marginalized voices, work to eliminate stigma, and to advance disability rights.

Fellowship Plans

Joonu-Noel will expand upon the routine monitoring Disability Rights NC conducts at PRTFs statewide and provide direct legal advocacy on behalf of youth residing at PRTFs and reentering their communities. She will follow a community lawyering model while working with parents and community organizations to create resources that will empower them to advocate effectively for their kids who need mental health care, addiction treatment, and disability services. She will develop and implement a communication campaign to educate community member and lawmakers on the many benefits of community-based mental health and substance abuse treatment for children and adolescents. Finally, she will seek legal remedies for systemic rights abuses of youth at PRTFs. The goal is a replicable model.


Campbell Law graduate earns prestigious Equal Justice Works Fellowship

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