Patchen Law, P.A., is proud to serve Lawyers For Children America, Inc. (LFCA) by providing free legal representation to children, who are victims of abuse, neglect, and abandonment in the dependency court system. In Florida, where children in dependency court are NOT entitled to government-funded attorneys, unlike their parents, LFCA fills a critical gap in services to this vulnerable population.
“As a law student, I was proud to serve as a Guardian Ad Litem for abused and neglected children, advising the dependency court as to ‘the best interests of the child.’ In the capacity of an Attorney Ad Litem with LFCA, I am now responsible for advocating the actual needs and desires of my client children, ensuring that their voices are heard in court,” said Heather A. Patchen, Esq.
“Often times the children in foster care are told nothing about what is happening to them and they have no one they can confide in or trust. Many are left scared and confused while they get shuffled through the system. My goal is to make sure my client children are in a stable environment and to guide them through the process so they feel safe and know that there is at least one person in their corner fighting for them,” she added.
LFCA educates volunteer attorneys with an extensive two part day-long CLE training on legal representation for children. LFCA also provides ongoing support to the volunteer attorneys including consulting with the pro bono attorneys at every step of the case, accompanying them to court hearings, reviewing legal pleadings, keeping them apprised of new developments in law, and helping them obtain community resources for child clients.
In addition to the training provided to volunteer attorneys, LFCA sponsors the Miami Chapter of Florida Youth SHINE (Striving High for Independence and Empowerment), a leadership and advocacy organization led by current and former foster youth who advocate to improve the system.
About Lawyers for Children America
LFCA is a lead child advocacy non-profit organization protecting the rights of children, who are victims of abuse, abandonment and neglect, by providing quality pro bono legal representation and collaborating for systematic change to improve the lives of children. The LFCA Miami chapter was established in 1998 under the leadership of the late John Edward Smith of the law firm of Steel, Hector & Davis and the Honorable Rosemary Barkett, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Since its inception, the LFCA Miami chapter has recruited, trained, and supported over 1,000 pro bono attorneys, who have provided free legal representation to over 3,000 abused and neglected children in our community. For more information about LFCA visit: www.lawyersforchildrenamerica.org.
LFCA Miami – 200 South Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 4000, Miami, FL 33131. Phone: 305-577-4771.