Children’s Law Center of California (CLC), formerly known as Dependency Court Legal Services, was founded in 1990 as a non-profit public interest law corporation designed to serve as court-appointed counsel for parents and children impacted by child abuse and neglect. In the beginning, hearings were held at the Los Angeles criminal courts building or in trailers at the Van Nuys courthouse. Attorneys’ personal vehicles doubled as offices. In time, the organization settled into its current location, the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park—a building specifically designed to be child-friendly and welcoming to the families coming through its doors.
In an effort to improve the quality of legal representation for children, the Los Angeles County Superior Court created a policy designating CLC as the first choice for representation of children. Accordingly, CLC focused on representing children in abuse and neglect proceedings and improved resources tailored to that goal. Increased staffing led to the addition of highly trained social work investigators, paralegals, legal assistants, clerks, and administrative staff. The organization expanded to include offices in both Monterey Park and Lancaster, and in 2011, CLC opened its doors in Sacramento where we now represent the foster children of Sacramento County in their dependency cases as well. The addition of CLC Sacramento was an important step for the organization. This crucial presence in the state capitol provides CLC with opportunities to learn from and develop policy and best practices based on experiences in more than one jurisdiction.
With a staff currently numbering over 275 and consisting of attorneys, investigators, paralegals, and support staff, CLC is “voice” for the nearly 30,000 abused and neglected children in Los Angeles and Sacramento County foster care systems. CLC currently has strong presence in the legislative arena, successfully sponsoring over 20 pieces of child welfare related legislation between 1999 and 2013.
Every year, CLC investigators conduct over 20,000 independent investigations into the well-being and safety of its clients (the children). CLC attorneys make over 100,000 appearances annually in court advocating on behalf of our vulnerable young clients. This advocacy includes the expertise of a mental health advocacy team, a family finding team, national and state bar-certified child welfare law specialists, and staff experts specialized in the areas of mental health, education, and juvenile delinquency law. CLC is now the largest non-profit, public interest law firm in the nation dedicated solely to protecting the rights of abused and neglected children.