Lelabari Giwa-Ojuri

  • Hosted by Community Legal Services
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP
  • Service location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Law school University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
  • Issue area Family Law
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Lelabari will pilot a model of participatory family defense to help parents who are current or former foster youth keep custody of their children.

Philadelphia’s child welfare system removes children from their families at a higher rate than any other major city. Most of these children are children of color and are removed from their families due to allegations of neglect, often conflated with poverty. Studies show the unnecessary separation of children from their families can be extremely traumatic and lead to abuse and disrupted education. Many of these children leave foster care isolated from their communities and without the resources they need to be safe and secure. When these children become parents themselves, their children are vulnerable to also being separated from their parents and experiencing the same trauma, isolation, and destabilization.

Fellowship Plans

Drawing from her experience representing and partnering with young people and their families through criminal law and family law, Lelabari seeks to provide parents with the tools and representation they need to keep their families safe while providing decision-makers with the information needed to make safe and effective interventions, when necessary. Lelabari plans to reduce family separation by providing legal services to parents who are current and former foster youth; integrate participatory defense tools, like social summaries and community meetings into her legal practice; establish a parent advisory group; co-create tools and strategies to avoid re-entry into the child welfare system, and collect and share information about parents who are current or former foster care youth.


Lelabari Giwa-Ojuri L’20 awarded prestigious 2020 Equal Justice Works Fellowship

Through partnering with parents and communities, I hope to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, child welfare involvement, and family separation.

Lelabari Giwa /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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