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Foundation awards children's services grants.

The Florida Bar Foundation has provided more than $700,000 in children's legal services grants to 15 legal assistance providers across the state.

These grants are special project funding and seek to improve the protection of children, their access to needed services, and improvement of such services, according to Tallahassee's William H. Davis, chair of the Foundation's Legal Assistance to the Poor Grant Committee.

"This is an area The Florida Bar Foundation is very interested in funding and in encouraging innovation and cooperation among legal assistance programs," Davis said. "This year we were able to actually increase funding in this area thanks in part to the leadership of Florida Bar President Miles McGrane, who encouraged lawyers to check the box on their dues statement to make a donation to the Foundation as part of his Lawyers' Challenge for Children campaign."

This year, Florida lawyers contributed $160,610 through the fees statement for the Foundation's children's services grants.

"Miles, in his effort, was responsible for a tremendous increase in response to the dues check off option and that is going to make a real impact on the lives of children," he said.

The number of children living in poverty is increasing, Davis said, and the impact not only diminishes their young lives but it also damages their futures and the future of our society.

"It is a serious problem for all of us when children do not receive the educational and health services to which they are entitled and which so many of them desperately need," he said.

In recognition of this, Davis said, the Foundation, with the support of The Florida Bar, has targeted the particular needs of children for special emphasis through the grants.

Grants were awarded to:

* Bay Area Legal Services/Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers' Pro Bono Kinship Care Project, which provides service and referral for kinship caregivers, $1,000

* Central Florida Legal Services for its Special Education Advocacy Project, which provides representation for children with special education needs, $47,000.

* Dade County Bar Association Legal Aid/Lawyers for Children America for its Teen Legal Collaborative, which provides legal representation to dependent children ages 12 to 21 through pro bono and staff attorneys, $50,000.

* Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center for its Unaccompanied Minors Project, which provides representation and legal education for unaccompanied immigrant children detained by the Department of Homeland Security (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service), $15,000.

* Florida Legal Services for its Children's Education and Health Collaborative Advocacy and Policy Project, which provides impact advocacy including foster care litigation and education capacity building, including homeless children, $65,395.

* Florida's Children First!, for its Children First Collaboration--representation of dependent and immigrant children and support of children's advocacy through training and developing attorneys, $205,000.

* Florida State University College if Law Children's Advocacy Center for its Special Education/Health Care Access Project--representation of children in civil and delinquency cases, $55,000.

* Jacksonville Area Legal Aid's Child Survivors Project to provide legal advocacy for unrepresented children impacted by domestic violence or high conflict custody proceedings, $15,000.

* Legal Aid Service of Broward County's Education Legal Rights Project--to ensure that the legal rights of children under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are being implemented, $25,000.

* Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association's Guardian Ad Litem Project--attorney and non-attorney support services to pro bono Guardians Ad Litem for children in juvenile actions, $35,000.

* Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County for its Educational Advocacy Project--to provide legal support and educational advocacy for at-risk school children, $25,000.

* Legal Services of Greater Miami for its Special Education Advocacy Project--to enforce the educational legal rights of children under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, $25,000.

* Legal Services of North Florida/ Northwest Florida Legal Services for their Education Equals Progress Project--education advocacy for disabled students and teen parents in Gadsden and Jefferson counties, $15,000.

* Southern Legal Counsel for its Education Advocacy Project--to develop and implement strategies to systemically impact the provision of educational legal services to low--income students and to provide statewide support for other Foundation grantees in education advocacy, $100,000.

* Three Rivers Legal Services for its Special Education Project--parent training, outreach, advocacy and community education for at-risk children, with focus on minority children placed in Exceptional Student Education classes, $25,000.
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Author:Killian, Mark D.
Publication:Florida Bar News
Date:Jan 15, 2004
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