Empowering Foster and Homeless Youth

Building pathways to education, housing, and employment for foster and homeless youth

Amber, a 21-year-old single mother, was facing homelessness after losing her job as a daycare worker. Amber was a great employee, but she couldn’t get her daycare license because of an old theft charge. Once connected to CCYJ, our Lawyers Fostering Independence (LFI) program helped Amber clear up her court record and obtain her daycare license to restore her employment, and avoid the trauma of homelessness for herself and her child. Amber says, “I couldn’t have done it without LFI’s help and advocacy.”   

The experience of being separated from one’s family and placed in foster care or becoming homeless is a highly stressful experience. Without stable relationships with caring adults, the stress on youth builds over time, causing long-term adverse effects.

Youth who have experienced foster care and/or youth homelessness often face significant emotional, educational, financial, and legal barriers that threaten their independence. The impact is significant:

  • One in four youth aging out of foster care becomes homeless within a year.
  • Nearly 13,000 youth in Washington are unstably housed over the course of a year.
  • Nearly 50 percent of kids exiting foster care do not graduate with a high school diploma.
  • 50 percent of former foster youth are unemployed at age 24.

What We’re Doing:

  • Providing civil legal assistance to help foster and homeless youth navigate barriers. CCYJ’s Lawyers Fostering Independence (LFI) program, a one-of-a-kind program in King County, offers free civil legal assistance to current/former foster youth and homeless youth on issues that primarily impact their ability to obtain or maintain stable housing, good employment, or desired education. LFI helps remove legal barriers so its clients have the opportunity to reach for their future without being blocked by their past.
  • Empowering foster and homeless youth to know their rights. We conduct “Know-Your-Rights” presentations at partner organizations to support young adult independence.
  • Training our volunteer attorneys. Over 100 volunteer attorneys from the local legal community support LFI clients. We provide free continuing legal education training for our volunteers on record-sealing, trauma-informed representation, and other issues facing the youth we serve