A core part of our new mission focuses on how we as an organization are using the law to solve children’s urgent problems today and improve the systems that will affect their lives tomorrow. Just as a hammer is the right tool for some projects and pliers are needed for others, various legal strategies have different purposes.
As part of our new strategic framework, Children’s Law Center is adding new legal tools to our toolbox so we can increase our ability to address issues at all levels. Our goal is to ensure we can solve problems for as many children as possible – with solutions that last.
Choosing a legal strategy is like determining which tool is needed for that point in time: are we laying the foundation for a new structure, repairing an existing policy or calling in an emergency crew to replace something that’s broken?
Some of the new legal strategies we plan to employ are:
Healthy Housing Litigation: When a pediatrician refers a parent to us because their child has been bitten by a rat in their apartment, it is likely that there are rats in other units of the same building. When we learn of unsafe and unhealthy housing conditions such as this, we will reach out to other tenants and, if they are interested, recruit a law firm to file a “multi-tenant” lawsuit so that everyone in the building can benefit from remediation.
School Improvement through State Complaints: A “state complaint” is a written request for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to investigate allegations that a school is violating federal or District laws or regulations. The result can ensure a school’s practice is consistent with their own policies or that they develop new policies in order to become compliant with the law.
Precision Public Health: Working with Children’s National, we mapped the DC apartment buildings with the highest rates of pediatric asthma and worst housing conditions. We are now bringing more partners to the table to identify solutions to make building repairs.