Help Working Poor Parents Through Legislative Advocacy

As a Senior Staff Attorney, Erin Dabbs was concerned that low-income parents lacking legal counsel were often forced to miss work, pay for expensive child care and transportation in order to get documents and files at court. Taking the initiative, Erin helped secure a legislative amendment that allows unmarried litigants in paternity cases to designate third parties to copy and review their court files. As a result, law students and volunteers from the Center can go through the court files themselves and make copies of need documents. Dabbs’ measure is an important effort to help low wage workers stay on the job.

In a separate move, the Center’s staff zeroed in on a new state law allowing juvenile court judges to extend the time an incarcerated parent may spend in programs to help them reunite with their children in foster care. The staff helped organize a dedicated group of agencies and individuals to form a working coalition to aid in implementation of the law.

The interagency chair, Judge Marguerite Downing represents the Los Angeles County Dependency Court and is a longtime supporter of the Center. Groups in the coalition include: the Children’s Law Center, Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers, Inc., the Los Angeles Public Defender, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept., and the Dept. of Children and Family Services.