Lawyers are helping homeless youths

On any given night, 7,000 young people in Florida are homeless. For many, the barriers standing between them and a stable, productive adulthood include legal issues such as a poor credit report, a tangled criminal record or having no basic identification.

The American Bar Association believes that homelessness among children constitutes a civil-rights issue.

We have created the ABA Homeless Youth Legal Network, which helps attorneys and other advocates address gaps in legal services for homeless youth.

Florida’s lawyers are a big part of this legal effort. On April 13, in Orlando, the ABA will join with The Walt Disney Company, the Baker McKenzie law firm and nonprofit child-advocacy organization Florida’s Children First to launch the Florida Homeless Youth Handbook.

This resource provides practical legal information on issues like healthcare, housing, credit, identification, foster care, criminal justice and public benefits.

Baker McKenzie also has produced such handbooks for New York, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota and Washington.

Lawyers from Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach have partnered with homeless youth shelters and drop-in centers to provide direct legal representation, offering legal clinics, and giving “Know Your Rights” presentations.

In Orlando, Greenberg Traurig attorneys are working with youth at Covenant House Florida; Holland & Knight lawyers are aiding those at Zebra Coalition; and Akerman attorneys are helping the young at The Faine House.

The ABA and Florida lawyers are working together to deliver this assistance so homeless youth have the chance to lead healthy, full lives.





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Alexia Nechayev

FYS Events & Meeting Chair
(Palm Beach)

Hello, My name is Alexia Nechayev. I am 25 years old and I am an alumna of Florida International University where I received my B.A. in Psychology. My future career goal is to be a Lawyer. I was in care for about one year from age 17 to 18. Prior to entering care, I only knew about the negative stigma regarding foster care and while in care that narrative was unfortunately my experience.

In school I felt like I was on display because my status in care was broadcast to other students and in my placement behavior was leveraged for “privileges” that should be a natural right of all children. Because I did not know my rights I did not know that what I was experiencing was wrong. Today this is exactly why I advocate, because I don’t want this to be the same for other youth who are experiencing foster care.

This is my second year on the FYS Statewide Board and I’m happy to be the Events and Meetings Chair this year because my main goal through advocacy is to reach as many people as possible. My favorite thing as a board member is to see how comfortable members become while working together. The community needs to know that youth in foster care are real people, going through some of the hardest moments of their life and youth need to know that their voice is powerful. I believe that we have to speak up and bring these issues to people’s attention so that they do not forget us. Advocacy, education and consistency is the only way.

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