Stoneleigh Foundation Emerging Leader Fellowship

To apply for this fellowship, please go to www.stoneleighfoundation.org and complete the Individual Application. Applications are due December 1. Send the application to Philippe Weisz at pweisz@hiaspa.org. For questions, call 215-832-0904.

 

Cross-Systems Advocacy and Support for Immigrant Children

Partnering Organization and Its Mission:HIAS Pennsylvania provides legal and supportive services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from all backgrounds in order to assure their fair treatment and full integration into American society. As the only program of its kind in the state, HIAS PA’s Immigrant Youth Advocacy Project (IYAP) has provided direct representation to unaccompanied and other vulnerable youth across southeastern Pennsylvania for more than nine years. In the past two years and in response to an overwhelming need, our work under this project has increased by 300%.

The Problem: Immigrant children, primarily from Central America, are resettling in Pennsylvania. Many of those who have arrived are eligible for immigration relief based on interpersonal violence or other hardships they've experienced, but most PA counties lack systems to help these children access relief. Without legal status, these youth are either forcibly returned to dangerous situations through deportation or are denied the most basic necessities such as access to health care, education, and mainstream employment. Many attorneys, child welfare workers, judges, and police/law enforcement personnel lack tools and the understanding needed to assist these children; in some cases courts and county agencies frustrate these children's access to legal relief. Though the exact number of vulnerable immigrant children in need of legal services in PA is unknown, HIAS PA estimates that it could number into the hundreds, if not thousands, and will continue to grow in coming years.

The Solution: The Emerging Leader Fellow will gather information on current practices of representing immigrant children in juvenile, dependency and family courts in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties. The fellow will do this through direct representation, research and advocacy. The fellow will represent immigrant children in state court and in the newly established Juvenile Docket now held in Philadelphia U.S. Immigration Court (which serves Eastern Pennsylvania) where applications for immigration relief require a state court order. Through representation, the fellow will identify barriers that immigrant youth and caretakers face in accessing appropriate court intervention. Additionally, the fellow will conduct interviews and focus groups with multiple stakeholders, including children and their families, child welfare professional, judges, and private attorneys. The fellow will synthesize and analyze resulting data to identify barriers and opportunities for meeting the legal needs of immigrant children. The fellow will also research existing models of best practices.

Outcomes: The Fellow will bring together the research to develop training materials and policy recommendations to share with juvenile justice professionals, child welfare professionals, immigration detention centers, school districts, and courts in Pennsylvania. The development of an advocacy plan with cross-systems policy recommendations and a strategy to influence key juvenile court and child welfare stakeholders in Pennsylvania will improve access to legal protections for immigrant children.

 

Desired Candidate Qualifications: The Fellow must have earned a J.D. between May 2012 and May 2015 and be admitted to or sitting for the Pennsylvania Bar in July 2015. Because most of the children and their caretakers speak Spanish, a bi-lingual Spanish/English-speaking Fellow is needed. Preference will be given to those with experience representing clients in family court, juvenile court, and/or immigration court. The ideal candidate will also have strong research and analytical skills.

 

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