Serving Low Income Students at Area Community Colleges

The Harriett Buhai Center developed its Community College Program to fill the lack of legal assistance for low-income community college students in LA County who are experiencing domestic violence and other family problems. The area schools include East Los Angeles, El Camino, Los Angeles Trade Tech, LA City, Southwest, Mount San Antonio and Citrus College. Between 2007 and 2010, over 2,300 hours of legal assistance have been devoted to community college clients and more than 1,000 students, faculty and staff have attended 25 educational presentations on the campuses in which Center staff spoke and provided guidance on family law topics to very interested audiences. The Center’s attorneys have visited campuses a total of 68 times to provide legal assessment and advice to 245 very low incomes students about problems which impede their success and attainment of their college degrees.

A representative at Mt. San Antonio College recently wrote, “Mt. San Antonio College students and staff are grateful for the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law as they provide a much needed resource for our students helping them make a better future for themselves and their children. Students have benefited tremendously from the on-site consultation. The ability for students to meet with legal staff on campus in a private setting which they are already familiar with is of extreme importance.”

Community colleges play an important role helping low-income students and their families become self-sufficient. Providing the support they need to stay in school is important not only to the students but to the community as a whole. Because of meager public funding, community colleges cannot afford to provide the assistance these students need to end the violence. Demand has increased exponentially as word has spread about the Center’s program through on-campus publicity and the Center’s presentations. Because of the overwhelming response, the colleges have asked that services be expanded and institutionalized to meet the need.