The Youth Law Center was initially a "street law" agency advocating on behalf of the youth of Central Iowa. In 1978 it became a non-profit corporation in the State of Iowa dedicated to protecting abused and neglected children, educating youth and promoting statewide policies that positively impact children.
The Youth Law Center was founded upon the following principles:
· The use of a multi-disciplinary team approach in the legal representation of children that combines the disciplines of law and social work.
· The belief that legal advocacy must be available for children on a voluntary basis without the necessity of formal court proceedings.
· The belief that, to be an effective advocate for a child, a lawyer must develop a relationship with the child and have an understanding of the child’s needs and the resources available to meet those needs.
· The belief that a child, who understands and has a voice in the handling of his or her case, will have a greater respect for the law.
· The necessity of advocating for just laws, policies and procedures which affect children’s lives.
From the beginning, the founders wanted a multidisciplinary approach to representing children. Our agency is staffed by attorneys and caseworkers who collaborate to provide a holistic, comprehensive legal services plan for the social, emotional, educational and legal welfare of the children we represent. This multidisciplinary approach is one of a kind in Iowa and is one of a handful across the United States. We are focused on using a trauma responsive approach when working with children and their families. Our agency believes in using compassionate honesty with the children and families we work with so that families can heal and best provide for the needs of their children.
Our attorneys solely practice in areas impacting children and have combined experience of over fifty-eight years practicing juvenile law. Our caseworkers are experienced social workers and have the combined experience of over forty-nine years of social work experience.
In FY21-FY22 We represented over 1,144 children in over 1,700 legal matters.
Our mission is to ensure children of Central Iowa have homes where they are safe, loved and encouraged to flourish physically, emotionally, academically and socially.