Pro bono spotlight: Stepping up for our children in foster care

“One Lawyer, One Life” is a new pro bono opportunity sponsored by The Florida Bar Public Interest Law Section, The Florida Bar and Florida’s Children First.

It is a statewide pro bono project designed to recruit, train, support, match and mentor volunteer attorneys willing to assist a 17-year-old who is in out-of-home care pursuant to Chapter 39, Florida Statutes, regarding dependency proceedings.

It will be the pro bono attorney’s role to counsel the young person regarding the resources available through the state and/or to assist with a specific legal matter.

Important decisions are made by and about 17-year-olds in Florida’s child welfare system. They need good legal advice to help them transition into adulthood on solid ground.

It’s one more way attorneys can prevent problems and can help ensure all of our young people have the support they need to be productive, happy adults.

In the 4th Judicial Circuit, the Department of Children and Families will refer young people needing assistance to Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. Pro bono attorneys who volunteer will be sent the information for a specific young person.

When the pro bono attorney accepts the case, DCF will enter the motion for appointment so the attorney may have access to the case file and docket.

JALA will assign the attorney to the case for the purpose of pro bono attorney support and professional liability coverage for the matter, if needed.

To volunteer, attorneys are asked to sign up on Florida for Children and Families’ website, Comprehensive training materials are available on the website for viewing at their convenience.

Additionally, pro bono attorneys can be paired with an expert resource person or mentor to provide guidance during the progress of the case. There also is a discussion forum available on

Sincere appreciation is extended to the attorneys in the 4th Circuit who have signed up to assist a 17-year-old who has been part of our foster care system.

More help is needed as cases in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties are being identified. The difference each attorney will make in helping a young person start adulthood with confidence and stability is immeasurable.

Attorneys interested in pro bono opportunities throughout the 4th Circuit are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, chair of The JBA Pro Bono Committee, at

By Kathy Para, The Jacksonville Bar Association Pro Bono Committee Chair

Read Original Article

Share this article:


Related Posts

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.

Skip to content