Daily Archives: Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Family Law and Immigration Sections Partner to Help Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

Greater Boston Legal Services Attorneys Nancy Kelly, Anne Mackin, and Patricia Ann Tellis-Warren walked family law attorneys through steps they can take to assist unaccompanied minors.

Greater Boston Legal Services Attorneys Nancy Kelly, Anne Mackin, and Patricia Ann Tellis-Warren walked family law attorneys through steps they can take to assist unaccompanied minors.

The influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America made headlines earlier this year. In an effort to offer assistance to these children, the BBA’s Immigration and Family Law Sections teamed up for a training on expediting the immigration process.

Experienced family law practitioners gathered at the BBA last Wednesday for an overview of the steps needed to obtain a predicate order from the Probate and Family Court, thus allowing an immigration attorney to later apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) for the immigrant youth. An expert panel made up of attorneys from Greater Boston Legal Services, including Nancy Kelly, Anne Mackin, and Patricia Ann Tellis-Warren, outlined common issues and challenges and discussed sample pleadings with the audience.

We checked in Julie Dahlstrom (Ascentria Care Alliance, formally Lutheran Social Services), one of the co-chairs of the Immigration Public Service Committee who organized the training, to learn more. Here’s what she had to say about the training.

What do you hope attendees learned at the training?

“We hope that attendees learned basic information about the avenues for immigration relief for unaccompanied children and various ways in which family law practitioners can provide pro bono services to immigrant children.”

Why should attorneys assist with these types of cases?

“Working with unaccompanied children is incredibly rewarding. Often, these children are fleeing violence, abuse and neglect in their countries. Having a lawyer can mean the difference between life and death.”

Now that the attorneys have learned the basic, they can take pro bono cases through Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Ascentria Care Alliance, and Greater Boston Legal Services.

Training Attorneys on Special Education Advocacy

Marlies Spanjaard (Edlaw Project) walked attendees through the different ways that attorneys can get involved in special education advocacy efforts

Marlies Spanjaard (Edlaw Project) walked attendees through the different ways that attorneys can get involved in special education advocacy efforts

On Monday, the BBA teamed up once more with the Edlaw Project to host a pro bono training on assisting at-risk youth. You may remember the popular training, “School Discipline Advocacy for At-Risk Youth,” held at the BBA last December. This time, attorneys gathered in the Conference Center to learn about special education advocacy from the Edlaw Project’s Director of Education Advocacy Marlies Spanjaard.

If you caught BBA President Julia Huston’s blogpost on the topic of education advocacy last week, you’re up to speed on the issue. However, if you missed it, here are a few of the surprising – and alarming – statistics:

  • Only about half of Massachusetts third-grade students score proficient or above in reading on the MCAS.
  • Two-thirds of children who can’t read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up imprisoned at some point in their lives.
  • Only 17% of students in grade K-12 across the state receive special education services.

The good news? Monday’s training helped to bolster the Edlaw Project’s pro bono panel to assist children in need of special education services. Click here to read her full post.