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 will provide early intervention representation for Alameda County foster youth ages 0-5 in special education, school discipline, and developmental services, ensuring they start school with 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

In the last year, Tori has:

  • Represented 83 children with special education, school discipline, or developmental services needs, appearing in court 23 times as co-counsel and 96 times solo;
  • Reviewed 199 developmental screenings, and provided recommended follow-up as needed;
  • Appointed to the Alameda County Early Care and Education Planning Council Steering Committee;
  • Conducted 66 home visits;
  • Recruited 10 law students through the Berkeley Law Foster Education Project;
  • Successfully negotiated a settlement between a school district and three-year old client, entitling that client to over $25,000 in educational services before Kindergarten.

Next Steps:

In the next year, Tori plans to:

  • Develop a resource on early care and education for foster youth to add to EBCLO’s Education Toolkit;
  • Continue to provide trainings to community groups on the rights of children in accessing developmental services and in preschool special education;
  • Collaborate with the Social Services Agency to increase identification of and support for early developmental, educational and mental health needs;
  • Continue to advocate for children with school districts, regional centers, and in juvenile court.


Five Tips for Lawyers Representing Children Under Five

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