Children's Law Center, Inc. Launches H.E.L.P. Program

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) granted funding to Children's Law Center for the Homeless and Education Law Program (H.E.L.P.). The program is funded for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 and is designed to provide legal counsel for youth experiencing poverty and homelessness to fill an existing gap for services in the area.

Through the program, CLC will work to advocate for youth in pursuing four major outcomes: economic opportunity, stable and supportive living situations, safety and well-being, and self-advocacy. Specific outcomes include school or college enrollment, employment, job training or assistance programs, graduation, GED, improved educational supports, grade promotion, and improvement in school attendance. For each client receiving services, CLC will help them identify their goals, create a case plan for achieving those goals, and provide services or referrals to other agencies/organizations to assist in obtaining identified goals and outcomes.

In accordance with the H.E.L.P. grant, CLC will partner with Arbor Youth Services in Lexington to hold monthly "H.E.L.P. Clinics" for their residents. The clinics will offer an overview of children's legal rights regarding education, housing, and dating violence, followed by an opportunity for residents to receive one-on-one consultation with our legal advocates. These are NOT open to the public, just available to residents at Arbor Youth Services. 

For more information, contact Amanda Bear at 


Children's Law Center, Inc. Joins The Education Civil Rights Alliance

In the face of increasing threats to student civil rights throughout the nation, Children’s Law Center, Inc. (CLC) has joined with more than two dozen leading education and civil rights groups to launch the Education Civil Rights Alliance (ECR Alliance).

Schools should serve, educate, empower and be safe for all students, yet all across America today, far too many students face bullying and other barriers to education based on their race, religion, national origin, gender identity, disability, first language, or sexual orientation. Immigrant children continue to be illegally denied the right to enroll in school. Increasingly divisive and hateful rhetoric and growing anti-Muslim and White nationalist sentiment only serve to exacerbate the threats to already marginalized vulnerable students.

“CLC is pleased to be a member of the Education Civil Rights Alliance” said Acena Beck, Executive Director at CLC. “Our children’s ability to succeed in school is vital to their successful transition into adulthood.”

The ECR Alliance will ensure the civil rights of marginalized students remain protected by providing resources to help parents, educators, school districts, and advocates protect students’ civil rights, supporting enforcement actions at the state and local level when schools districts and states fail to do so, working to raise public awareness of these challenges facing students, and serving as a deterrent to discriminatory and illegal behavior.

This alliance includes powerful community groups, experienced educators, the nation’s largest teacher unions, accomplished legal organizations, influential national associations, civil rights organizations, and government agencies committed to ensuring that schools serve, educate, empower and are safe for all students. Members of the ECR Alliance have extensive experience in, and a deep commitment to, protecting students’ civil rights.



Federal Judge Rules Cuffing of Young Elementary Students Unconstitutional

Covington, KY- Oct. 13, 2017- The Federal District Court Judge presiding over S.R. et. al v. Kenton County issued an opinion Wednesday granting the child-Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment, ruling that the cuffing of two students with disabilities by a school resource officer was an unconstitutional seizure and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Court also ruled that Kenton County is liable for the deputy sheriff’s unconstitutional conduct.

“Even as young children, both were certain that what the deputy did to them was wrong” said Rickell Howard Smith, litigation director for the Children’s Law Center and counsel for the child-Plaintiffs. “I am glad to be able to tell them that the federal judge agrees with them.”

The children, an 8-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl were handcuffed above the elbow behind their backs. A disturbing video shows the boy, S.R., crying out in pain. The girl, L.G, was twice handcuffed above the elbow, also causing her pain. Both children were being punished for behavior related to their disabilities.

“We are gratified that the judge found, as a matter of law, that this was a violation of the 4th Amendment” said Claudia Center, senior staff attorney for the ACLU Disability Rights Program. “We knew this was unconstitutional behavior. Anyone who viewed the video could see it was tantamount to torture.”

The lawsuit was filed in August 2015 by the Children’s Law Center, Dinsmore & Shohl, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which prompted a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into the school districts disciplinary practices, including the use of police to deal with routine student misbehavior. In January 2017, Covington Independent Schools entered into an agreement with DOJ and began implementing new policies to ensure that disciplinary practices do not discriminate against children with disabilities.

"This is a great day for our clients and the elementary school children of Kentucky” said Kenyon Meyer of Dinsmore Shohl. “The court confirmed that using law enforcement tactics to discipline young children in this manner has no place in our schools."

A copy of the decision can be found at For more information, contact: Rickell Howard or Acena Beck, Children's Law Center, 859-431-3313, or Kenyon Meyer, Dinsmore & Shohl, 502-540-2300, Claudia Center, ACLU, (415) 343-0762, Susan Mizner, ACLU, 646-421-9387,

See the opinion HERE


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Local Civil Rights Lawyer and Reform Advocate Wins Prestigious Fellowship In Youth Justice

Rickell Howard, Ohio Litigation and Policy Director of Children’s Law Center, has been chosen to be a Fellow in the Youth Justice Leadership Institute. The Institute is a prestigious national fellowship program run by the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) in Washington, DC for juvenile justice reform advocates. Applications to the year-long leadership development program—which is targeted at advocates of color—are extremely competitive and only ten people are selected nationally each year.

Although communities of color are generally those most heavily-impacted by juvenile justice policies, advocates of color are surprisingly underrepresented in reformer leadership. The Youth Justice Leadership Institute seeks to address this imbalance by offering fellowships to develop the leadership and advocacy skills of people of color who are in the youth justice field.

“It is both an honor and privilege to be selected to be part of this year’s Youth Justice Leadership Institute,” said Rickell Howard. “I look forward to learning from national leaders in juvenile justice reform and using new strategies to affect positive changes for youth and families in Hamilton County.” Over the next year, Rickell Howard will complete an advocacy project centered on reducing racial disparities in Hamilton County’s Juvenile Justice System.

“There’s a critical need to develop strong and effective leaders of color in the youth justice movement,” said Diana Onley-Campbell, who coordinates the national program for NJJN. “We believe that the voices and leadership of individuals of color are crucial tools in reforming the biased juvenile justice system and will help build a fairer, more equitable and developmentally appropriate juvenile justice system for all youth and families.


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CLC Gets Funded to Start New Pro Se Clinic In Kentucky

Children's Law Center has been granted generous funding from the Kentucky Bar Foundation to start a Pro Se Custody Clinic in Campbell County and Jessamine County. At each clinic, participants will be provided with all legal documents required for a child custody action filing. Pro Bono attorneys will provide an overview of the child custody process, answer questions, and offer procedural advice. Law students will assist participants with completing and filing the legal documents. We are very excited about this new project. Thank you to the KBF for making it possible!