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FY24 Budget Testimony: Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants

April 13, 2023

Children’s Law Center Executive Director Judith Sandalow testified before the DC Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety about the Access to Justice Initiative budget.

The Initiative is a critical part of the District’s safety net. The Mayor’s proposed 60% cut to the Initiative’s budget will lead to potentially catastrophic consequences for the thousands of DC residents who rely on the legal help provided by the programs that the Initiative funds.

Judith shared how, with the help of Access to Justice funding, Children’s Law Center is able to:

  • Reach more than 1,000 children and families each year;
  • Resolve problems that impact children’s health related to housing conditions, housing security, special education, school choice, developmental issues for infants and toddlers, bullying, health care access, public benefits, guardianship and custody;
  • Meet families in their own neighborhoods by putting lawyers onsite at THEARC, the Anacostia Clinic and Unity on Minnesota Avenue;
  • Give hundreds of parents and caregivers the information they need to advocate for their own children;
  • Train 75+ pediatricians and other medical staff each year to solve problems related to housing, school and public benefits that are impacting a child’s health – and prevent the need for a lawyer;
  • Avoid $14.1M in Medicaid costs over a three-year period (for entire program).

Judith also shared how cutting the Initiative’s funding has both human and financial costs. And, while the funding is used exclusively for direct legal services, it allows us to build our expertise, experiences and relationships that have important, positive ripple effects.

Children’s Law Center Policy Analyst Danielle Robinette also submitted written testimony to the Committee. Her testimony urges the Committee to restore $500,000 to the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants’ truancy reduction budget for the “Show Up, Stand Out” program to pilot the Learner Engagement and Attendance Program.