Kevin Johnson

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Each year, approximately 20,000 youth will age out of the foster care system without a permanent family.

Kevin Johnson and Heather Tager

Attorney Heather Tager was appointed to represent Kevin in August of 2015.

He was 15 years old and had been in and out of foster care his entire life. Heather was appointed as attorney for Kevin because the Department of Children and Families (DCF) wanted him placed in a more restrictive therapeutic group home setting. He needed a lawyer to advocate for what he wanted.

After meeting with Kevin and his therapist, Heather and Social Worker Anny Guzman learned the therapist was never consulted. She felt Kevin was doing better and that a more restrictive group home setting was not necessary. Kevin also expressed that he did not want to go to the group home and revealed what was really going on in his life. During their meeting, Kevin spoke of his brother, who had recently left the state and never told him; his history with his mother who abused, neglected, and abandoned him; the father he never knew; his excessive number of placement changes while in foster care; and all of the adults in his life who lied to him or let him down.

Kevin believed he only had two choices: death or prison. He told Heather and Anny that the statistics were against him.

Being in the foster care system from a young age had taken its toll on Kevin because so many adults failed him. Kevin told Heather and Anny that although he didn’t want to be placed in a therapeutic group home, he thought that what he had to say didn’t matter. Heather and Anny told Kevin he had the right to go to court to state his position and know what was happening, and that they would research his case and argue his position.

Telling Kevin what it meant to have a lawyer, a trusted advisor, stating his positions, and advocating for his legal interests was critical in Kevin’s life.

Following Heather’s argument, the Court agreed that Kevin should not be moved to a more restrictive therapeutic group home and that all parties to his case needed to work harder to help Kevin. Heather and Anny took this charge seriously, providing high quality, zealous, client-centered representation of Kevin both in and out of court over the next three years. Heather obtained a court order that required DCF to pay for a cell phone, so Kevin had a way to communicate with his family (siblings that he had not seen in many years and who lived out of state), friends, and his lawyer. Heather and Anny also ensured that Kevin’s medical needs were addressed, including going with him to a doctor’s visit.

Additionally, when Kevin was turning 18 years old, Heather found housing for him and advised him about his options. Heather and Anny were also able to ensure Kevin had the basic resources he needed, like clothing and greater stability in his placement. Once Kevin had stable housing, and all these needs met, he was able to obtain his GED. He no longer believed death or prison were his only options.

Kevin’s case closed in the fall of 2018, with a party in the courtroom celebrating his 19th birthday. Kevin is now pursuing higher education and working hard towards achieving all his goals. It’s been a long road for Kevin with many ups and downs, but having adults who believe in him and will never give up on him has helped Kevin believe in himself and have hope for his future.

She [Heather] didn’t give up on me like the foster care people did. Just knowing that you have someone who genuinely cares and wants what’s best for you—that’s what counts.”

Kevin Johnson

Former Client

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