Juvenile Regional Services is now the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights.
We’ve changed our name, but our fundamental commitment has not changed. We are still dedicated to defending the right of every Louisiana child to fairness, dignity, and opportunity.
Photo by Noel Chacha
We were founded in response to the collapse of the New Orleans justice system after Hurricane Katrina, and – on a more fundamental level – to a tragic history of neglect and abuse of young people in Louisiana’s juvenile courts and jails.
Our founders believed that Louisiana’s children need and deserve a champion to stand up for their right to fairness, dignity, and opportunity. They believed that public defenders are uniquely situated to play that role, and to make a long-term, transformational difference in the lives of at-risk youth – and, through those children, in the safety and prosperity of our cities.
Our new name, logo, website, and newsletter are the clearest expression of our founders’ beliefs – and will also support a range of new initiatives that will both deepen our impact in New Orleans and extend our work across Louisiana.
At the same time, we remember our core commitment: Our newly-renamed Children’s Defense Team continues to provide holistic juvenile defense advocacy to New Orleans’ most at-risk children in more than 1200 delinquency and status offender cases each year.
We continue to believe, in a city scourged by violence, that our children aren’t the problem. They’re the solution, and our Children’s Defense Team will keep fighting for them.
Center. We have built the national model for cross-disciplinary, holistic advocacy that our founders envisioned back in 2006. We are the only independent, specialized juvenile public defender in the country, and a source of resources and support for children in the justice system, and their defenders, across Louisiana.
Children’s. Our new name refuses to define our young people by the juvenile justice system into which they have fallen. They are children, and their defining characteristics are their infinite potential, their resilience, and their hopefulness. As much as we defend children, we defend childhood – the promise of youth, and the right of every child to opportunity and joy.
Rights. Our work for Louisiana’s children doesn’t stop at the courthouse doors. We are committed to integrated advocacy across the full range of clients’ rights – from the right to equal justice in court to the right to an excellent education and a future of career opportunity.
Rights was the most important part of our name to our clients. As a client-directed organization, we convened our young people as part of this process. Again and again, they told us that what they wanted were advocates who would fight for their rights. They wanted courage, commitment, and compassion – and those things, in turn, became part of our new articulation of our values, and inspired our new logo.
As we approach the eighth anniversary of the hurricane, it is still true that too many of our children are becoming enmeshed in the juvenile justice system, caught in a harmful cycle of arrest and incarceration, merely because they have not been given the supports and opportunities that they need to develop and thrive. It is still true that our children too often grow up surrounded by fear, death, and distrust. It is still true that, too often, there is nobody to defend and fight for our children – in our city, state, and country.
That’s why we’re still here, stronger than ever. And that is why we are continuing to expand our work, with new initiatives including a Community Defender project that extends our client-directed ethic to seeking guidance and direction from the communities that we serve; a robust training and professional development program; the Reentry Project, which provides intensive case-management and reintegration support for youth coming home from secure detention; and the Second Chances Project, which fights for the right of jailed youth to rehabilitation and release.
On behalf of the Center for Children’s Rights’ Staff and Board, we thank you for your support, interest, and friendship. Please take a moment to sign up for our newsletter. We’ll use it to keep you up to date with our new projects and activities.
Take a moment to look through our new website, too. It describes our work; introduces our staff, supporters, and partners; offers new resources for youth and their families, and provides practice supports for public defenders across the state.
Today, we’re proud of our progress, motivated by our founding ideals, excited for our future, and as committed now as ever to defending the right of every Louisiana child to fairness, dignity, and opportunity.
Executive Director ￼
President, Board of Directors