Over the summer I interned at Youth, Rights & Justice (YRJ), a state-funded public defender office representing juveniles, children and parents in juvenile court proceedings. The internship was very beneficial and instructive, as well as rewarding. The organization provides a solid, valid and inspirational resource to youth and families who find themselves involved in the juvenile court, led by very knowledgeable, efficient attorneys and staff who are not afraid to think outside of the box in order to help their clients.
While interning I completed several projects including updating the YRJ booklet on a Teen’s Legal Guide to Foster Care in Oregon, and preparing a resources flowchart for youth transitioning out of foster care and OYA. I also assisted in preparing materials and organizing a CLE/CEU approved training on improving visitation. The training was aimed at judges, attorneys, caseworkers, providers, and CASA who are directly involved in Multnomah child welfare cases.
During my internship I also participated in the detention alternatives program, which focuses on utilizing alternative options to detention for delinquent youth. As part of this program I met with juveniles in detention before their preliminary hearing to provide them with materials and information to help them understand their information. I also gathered information from the youth on what is available as an alternative placement to detention.
I also worked on policy issues including a foster care bill of rights while interning at YRJ. This project involved researching and drafting the supporting documentation for the proposed legislation, drafting legislation and strategizing legislative activities to get the bill passed. The legislation is aimed at improving resources and advocacy for foster youth, who presently have little or no recourse for violation of their basic rights. Additionally, I completed legal research on various matters such as guardianship, interstate compact on placement of youth, juvenile shackling, and the elements of specific crimes.
I chose to work for YRJ because of my passion for working with youth and families, and my belief that rehabilitation is the best choice for juveniles. My experience at YRJ inspired me to attain a professional level of representation, while continuing to be attuned to the very real, personal aspect of family and juvenile law.