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Truancy Intervention Project

Name of Non-Profit Agency: 
The Children's Law Center of Connecticut, Inc.*
Melissa Stachelek
Program Manager
Why is this assistance important to these clients? 
High school drop-outs have a higher incidence of incarceration and are more likely to be life-long victims of poverty than their graduating peers. Educators report that the best predictor for high school graduation is a student’s history of school attendance. Truancy is frequently an early warning signal of stress affecting a family, and also a child’s first encounter with the judicial system. The Project matches middle school-aged students with attorney volunteers who provide early intervention before truancy-related problems become intractable or a Family with Service Needs petition is filed in Juvenile Court.
Who are the clients? 
Middle school children from New Britain, Connecticut who are experiencing problems with school attendance.
What legal strategies do the pro bono lawyers use to assist the clients? 
Attorneys have three major roles:1) Advocating for the child in matters related to or affecting school attendance, including representing the child in any truancy related proceedings; 2) Problem solving to identify the root causes of the truancy and finding community resources to assist the child and family; 3) Serving as a role model for the value of education.
If the pro bono attorney will be appearing for the client, in what court or other forum will that appearance be? 
Juvenile Court
What are the outcome goals of this assistance? 
Improvement in the child's school attendance.
What time commitment is required to do this pro bono work? 
Weekly contact with the child totaling 3-4 hours or more per month, much of which will be outside normal work hours, for one year.
Where is the pro bono work done? (For example, at a legal aid office or at the pro bono attorney's office.) 

Locations are determined by volunteer and child (with parental consent). For example: the library, the child's school / home.

Give a short (1-paragraph) case example: 
Ana, age twelve, had 17 unexcused absences when she entered the Truancy Project. As her attorney volunteer got to know Ana and her family, it was discovered that Ana was responsible for waking herself up in the morning for school. Certainly not an unreasonable responsibility for someone her age, but there was no alarm clock, no clock radio and no person at home to wake Ana on time. Ana’s volunteer decided to touch base with her every day in addition to their weekly time together. So every morning the volunteer called Ana at 7 a.m. (to wake her up) wished her a great day at school, and through brief discussion encouraged her to make good choices (i.e. to get to school on time), and reminded her to take her medication (for ADHD). The arrangement had a profound effect on the child’s attendance.
If no How are those without full admission supervised to ensure avoidance of issues regarding unlicensed practice?: 
See below regarding law students.
If it is important that a pro bono lawyer already has particular legal background or training, please describe. 
The program is designed to be comfortable for attorneys who are not litigators, have little or no courtroom experience, and are seeking a volunteer experience outside a courtroom setting.
What training is provided to pro bono lawyers doing this work? 
Training topics include special education law, understanding issues of culture and poverty, representing the adolescent client, learning about community and state services available to clients and their families, and procedures in Family with Service Needs cases. We also have advisors available to assist our volunteers in areas such as school law, juvenile law, landlord-tenant law, benefits law, child protection, and local social service and education programs.
Who provides the training? 
Training is delivered by experienced attorneys and knowledgeable service providers.
Where is the training held? How long does the training last? 
Training is usually held at the Connecticut Bar Association headquarters in New Britain. For more training information or to register for training please visit
At what time of day is the pro bono work done (example evening clinic)?: 
The times are arranged through mutual agreement between the volunteer and the child.
Does this pro bono work require full admission to practice in Connecticut? 
The following are eligible to serve as a volunteer: • Lawyers admitted to the Connecticut bar who are in good standing under Connecticut Superior Court Rule Sec. 2-65 • Connecticut Authorized House Counsel under Connecticut Superior Court Rule Sec. 2-15A • Retired Connecticut attorneys practicing pursuant to Connecticut Superior Court Rule Sec. 2-55 • Law students practicing under the supervision of an attorney admitted to the Connecticut bar who is qualified under Connecticut Superior Court Rule Sec. 3-15
Can the training be attended remotely (webinar or teleconference)? 
When is the next training (after October 1) and how often is training offered? 

For more information or to register for training please visit

This organization is a member of the Connecticut Pro Bono Network.