Photo of Victoria Porell

Tori Porell

  • Hosted by East Bay Children’s Law Offices
  • Sponsored by The Morrison & Foerster Foundation
  • Service location Oakland, California
  • Law school University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Tori provided early intervention representation for Alameda County foster youth ages 0-5 in special education, school discipline, and developmental services, ensuring they start school with the support they need.

Research shows that high-quality early educational interventions are associated with long-lasting benefits for all children, but many foster youth are not able to access these programs due to developmental, behavioral, or mental health needs. When these students are not successful in early childhood education or are subject to discipline like suspension or expulsion, they are more likely to continue to get in trouble at school and fail to grow academically. By intervening earlier, stabilizing younger students in school, identifying potential developmental or special education needs, and connecting children to services, it is possible to prevent problems from worsening and improve academic outcomes for these youth.

Fellowship Highlights

During the Fellowship period, Tori:

  • Represented 159 children with special education, school discipline, or developmental services needs in educational and developmental proceedings and juvenile court
  • Provided recommendations on 306 screenings for developmental delays
  • Developed training materials on the rights of children in early intervention and special education and the rights of foster youth aged 0-5
  • Received two grants specifically for Tori’s Kindergarten Readiness project, which provides culturally and developmentally appropriate distance learning to all clients entering Kindergarten in fall 2020
  • Selected to present on the Strong Beginnings model of early intervention representation at the National Association of Counsel for Children

Next Steps:

Tori remains at her host organization East Bay Children’s Law Offices (EBCLO) as a staff attorney. The Strong Beginnings program, launched by Tori’s Fellowship has become a permanent part of EBCLO’s practice and Tori continues to provide the office with specialized resources for clients aged 0-5.


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