Who We Are

The L. David Shear Children’s Law Center of Bay Area Legal Services provides high-quality, holistic, client-directed legal representation to children who have been abused, neglected, and/or abandoned in the overburdened child welfare system.

In Hillsborough County, approximately 50% of the children removed from their homes are ages five and under. The Children’s Law Center represents this vulnerable population of children ages five and under and their older siblings. Our attorneys also represent children of all ages with special needs.

Our team consists of attorneys and social workers who work in partnership on each child’s case, allowing us to focus on the child as an individual with unique needs and legal interests. Our zealous advocacy doesn’t end in the courtroom and includes fighting for children to receive a free and appropriate public education, necessary and quality services, and achieve stability in a safe and loving home promptly. Children deserve a voice in the matters that impact their lives the most, and we ensure that their voices are heard.

High Quality Early Education for Dependent Youth

In 2013, the Children's Law Center founded the High Quality Early Education for Dependent Youth (HQEEDY) Collaborative – and we continue to lead HQEEDY. The Florida Bar has recognized the HQEEDY Collaborative for having a statewide impact.

HQEEDY is a community collaborative working to bridge the gap between the dependency system (courts and social services) and the school system (for early education). Our goal is to ensure high-quality early education for all zero-to-five-year-old dependent youth.

Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Children’s Law Center currently hosts Equal Justice Works Fellow Taylor Greenberg, who is sponsored by Greenberg Traurig LLP and the Florida Bar Foundation. Each year, Equal Justice Works selects between 50 and 70 fellows from around the country to implement a project in an area of unmet legal need.

Taylor’s project includes providing direct representation to teenagers living in group home foster care and educating youth and the community on the rights teens have in foster care. Taylor developed the first comprehensive “Know Your Rights” guide for teens in foster care in the state of Florida. Her guide empowers youth to be informed of their rights and become their own advocates.

Facts & Figures

  • Since opening our doors in 2006, the Children's Law Center has represented more than a thousand child clients.
  • Since 2017, we have represented more than 300 children and spent thousands of hours zealously advocating for our child clients.
  • We do not face high turnover rates or gaps in our representation. Our attorneys remain on the case from the date of appointment until achieving permanency, ensuring consistency in advocacy and successful results for our child clients.
  • Our legal representation has led to our child clients receiving services essential to their well-being, including appropriate medical or dental care, mental health counseling, and individualized educational services.
  • In zealously advocating for our clients, we prevent or mitigate many issues, such as behavioral problems and emotional distress caused by children languishing in foster care, having multiple placements, and not receiving needed services.

To ensure high-quality performance, the Children's Law Center compares its statistics to Hillsborough County welfare provider Eckerd Connects.

The children we represent are less likely to reenter care after being reunified with a parent or parents.

For children 18 and under, the statistic is calculated by the number of children who were removed within 12 months of being reunified with a parent or parents, divided by the total number of children reunified.

2018:

  • The Children's Law Center: 0%
  • Eckerd Connects: 13%

2017:

  • The Children's Law Center: 0%
  • Eckerd Connects: 0.09%
Our adoption statistics for 2017-2018 reflect that our clients spent less time in care before being adopted.

2018:

  • The Children's Law Center: 23 months
  • Eckerd Connects: 33 months

2017:

  • The Children's Law Center: 23 months
  • Eckerd Connects: 28 months

Still have questions?

If you live or have a case in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas or Sarasota counties, we may be able to help.

How do I apply? Am I eligible?

Call (800) 625-2257

to apply for service.

Or complete our online application

and we will call you back.