New Colorado legal program helps at-risk young people transition into adulthood

(Denver, CO)///NEWS ADVISORY///On Monday, June 11, 2018 The Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center (Law Center) launched a new Young Adult Legal Advocacy program to help young people, ages 18-25, transition to adulthood with legal and clinical support.  Lauren Rafter, a Shaffer Fellow from Notre Dame, joined the Law Center in October of 2017, intent on building a program that provided civil legal assistance to young adults who have experienced homelessness, the child welfare system, or other trauma when transitioning into the world of adulthood.  After hundreds of hours of research and countless interviews with Colorado community partners, Rafter identified that youth throughout Colorado and the nation who experience foster care, homelessness and the juvenile justice system have many additional, complex barriers in their way when transitioning to adulthood. However, nearly every community partner noted that there were not appropriate and accessible resources available to address these issues and serve these populations.

More often than not, young adults who have had such experiences have increased difficulty obtaining standard identification such as state-issued ID’s, birth certificates and social security cards. “Identification documents are frequently a prerequisite to gaining employment, opening a bank account, renting an apartment and so much more. Without identification or family assistance in obtaining it, young people can get stuck and end up unable to support themselves in our society,” said Rafter. Countless others need assistance resolving landlord disputes, accessing public assistance/government benefits and expunging their juvenile records.

Across the country, nearly one-third of youth experiencing homelessness had experiences with foster care and nearly half had been in juvenile detention, jail or prison. Last year in Colorado, 58.1% of youth who identified as homeless had foster care involvement and 51.2% had corrections experience, with 26% of them having both. According to the American Bar Association Homeless Youth Legal Network, “pro bono assistance can be enormously valuable for homeless youth when lawyers are well-equipped to handle the needed legal work and partner with other stake holders who are helping the youth with non-legal services.” With the support of Rafter and Law Center’s clinical consultants, these young adults will be able to access the legal resources they need for stability and success.


Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center

Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center is a Denver-based nonprofit organization providing legal and advocacy services to children and youth who have experienced abuse, neglect, trauma or other risks. The Law Center also works in policy advocacy to promote systemic reforms and improvements in the best interest of children. The Law Center has served more than 25,000 children in its 36-year history.

Young Adult Legal Advocacy Program

Youth who have experienced foster care, homelessness, or other trauma face many obstacles as they transition to adulthood. The Young Adult Legal Advocacy Program works to remove barriers by providing assistance on civil legal matters that frequently impact these populations. Our goal is to provide young people who have experienced homelessness, foster care, or other trauma the legal advocacy they need to move past obstacles and successfully transition into adulthood.

The Young Adult Legal Advocacy Program provides free legal and clinical support to help these young adults navigate the transition to adulthood, including:

  • Obtaining birth certificates and state/other identification documents
  • Expunging a juvenile record
  • Securing public assistance/government benefits
  • Addressing landlord disputes
  • Providing training, consultation and resources for youth and young adults, as well as professionals who work with this population
For more information, contact:
Lauren Rafter, Staff Attorney
Shaffer Fellow
P: 303-302-9914

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