Press Releases

POSTED MAY 1, 2019

Children’s Law Center Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Children’s Law Center, Inc. (CLC), a non-profit legal service center protecting the rights of children and youth, kicks off its 30th anniversary celebration in May 2019. Since 1989, CLC has become a locally and nationally recognized youth advocacy organization in the legal community for its work on juvenile justice, education, and on behalf of children in need of protection. CLC will commemorate this milestone with a number of public education and promotional events throughout the year.

CLC helps children and youth to overcome barriers and transition into adulthood, better advocate for their own needs, and successfully contribute to society. It provides individual legal advocacy for its young clients, and through public policy work, training and education, impact litigation, and juvenile defender support services, seeks to improve the systems that serve children and youth. CLC offers services throughout Kentucky and Ohio, collaborates with other organizations in the region (and nationally) on a variety of issues, and does not charge any fees to receive services.

“Although much has changed since 1989, our core mission to protect the rights of children and youth remains the same,” said CLC Executive Director Acena Beck. “Our advocacy and holistic representation throughout the past 30 years has made a positive impact on systems that serve children.”

CLC was founded in May of 1989 by its former Executive Director, Kim Brooks Tandy. Since its inception, CLC has provided free direct legal representation to thousands of children and youth, with an average of over 500 clients per year over the last five years.

“The Children’s Law Center has advocated on behalf of children and their families for several decades” said CLC Board President Jennifer Lawrence. “Making a difference to impact the future lives of children is the aim of CLC’s advocacy work.”

To celebrate CLC’s longevity and success, as well as the benefits it has brought to children and youth in Kentucky and Ohio, CLC will raffle off two bottles of Van Winkle bourbon (one 10-year and one 12-year) donated by Party Town in Florence.

CLC will also launch a sustaining donor program. If you are interested in becoming a sustaining donor or would like more information about CLC, please contact the Executive Director, Acena Beck, at 859-431-3313 or


Children’s Law Center Announces Celebrity Dancers for Dancing with the CLC Stars Event

Children’s Law Center’s seventh annual Dancing with the CLC Stars fundraising dance competition is on Thursday, May 30, 2019 from 6:00-9:30 p.m. at Receptions Event Center (1379 Donaldson Hwy, Erlanger, KY 41018). Click link below to view the 2019 Celebrity Dancers!

posted october 17, 2018

Children’s Law Center Welcomes New Development Director

The Children’s Law Center (CLC) is pleased to announce it has chosen Steve Hegge as the new development director of the organization. Hegge assumed the duties and responsibilities of development director on October 1, 2018. He takes over for John Vissman, who was the previous development director at CLC for the past six years. Vissman retired on September 30, 2018.

“I know I have some big shoes to fill in replacing John, but I also know that he left a solid foundation on which to stand,” said Hegge. “I look forward to working with staff and board members to continue to raise funds to fulfill CLC’s mission.”

Hegge has over 20 years of experience in the local nonprofit arena and has raised funds for United Way, Campbell Lodge Boys' Home, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the University of Cincinnati. Hegge has a bachelor’s degree in English from Western Kentucky University and a master’s degree in English from Idaho State University.

“I have enjoyed a wonderful six years working as Development Director on the CLC team” said Vissman. “I am humbled by the great work the organization does every day to help children and youth overcome barriers to success. CLC is lucky to have Development Director Steve Hegge’s experience and wisdom leading its resource acquisition efforts as the organization continues to advocate for disadvantaged children and youth.”

Hegge is a member of the Leadership Northern Kentucky Class of 2006, and he has been a board member for Friends of the Kenton County Public Library, Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council, Cincinnati Zen Center, and the Fort Mitchell Tree Board. Hegge is also a current hospice volunteer with Bluegrass Care Navigators.

“CLC looks forward to working with Steve and we thank John for being an instrumental part of our organization for the past six years,” said Acena Beck, Executive Director.

For more information please contact Executive Director Acena Beck at or 859-431-3313, or Development Director Steve Hegge at or 859-431-3313

posted march 22, 2018

Children's Law Center and Lighthouse Youth & Family Services Join Partnership to Help Youth with Second Chance Succeed

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has awarded a grant to Lighthouse Youth & Family Services to partner with Children’s Law Center to provide civil legal services to youth returning to their families and communities following out-of-home placement. Through the Second Chance Act Juvenile Reentry Legal Services Initiative, the youth will receive civil legal services to address indirect consequences of justice system involvement. The goal is to reduce recidivism by removing barriers to securing housing, education, and employment. The initiative is funded by the DOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Children’s Law Center selected Children’s Law Center Youth Reentry Staff Attorney Carrie Gilbert to coordinate this initiative with Lighthouse. Gilbert spends the majority of her time working within Lighthouse’s Hamilton County Community Juvenile Justice Reentry Services.

“This partnership with Children’s Law Center allows youth to receive streamlined reentry services, making what they need to succeed easily accessible and as a result, improving their outcomes, “said Gregory Bingham, Director of Lighthouse’s Hamilton County Community Juvenile Justice Services. ”Working together, we can support young people returning to our community in the best ways possible.”

Young people reentering their community frequently need assistance sealing or expunging their juvenile records, accessing education and stable housing, and managing court fines and fees. Ms. Gilbert assesses each young person’s legal needs and provides all necessary services, including attending all court and administrative hearings as well as school meetings, advocating for the youth, preparing motions, doing research, or contacting opposing counsel.


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