LACLJ’s Community Advocacy services are built-in to LACLJ’s legal services. Community Advocates are social workers in training, who work under the direction of the attorney to help clients with non-legal needs they may have that are related to their legal case. The legal process is difficult and not-designed to be friendly to survivors. Community Advocates are part of the legal team to try to make the process a little easier and more productive for clients. Community Advocates can assist a client through their entire journey with LACLJ – from intake to exit interview – to help the client achieve their goals. The Community Advocate may provide many different types of supportive services, depending on a client’s needs, such as:
Community Advocates provide emotional support to clients before, during and after proceedings such as restraining order and other family and criminal court hearings, as well as mediations, and interviews with law enforcement. Clients who are survivors of domestic or sexual violence often request support when proceedings involve facing the person who has harmed them. Advocates may help clients work with court procedures, identify safety measures, and they also provide post-hearing support.
Community Advocates assist clients with safety planning. A safety plan is a practical, personalized strategy that addresses ways to remain safe in dangerous situations. Safety planning is especially important for survivors of domestic or sexual violence, whether they have left, are planning to leave, or are living with an abusive person. Through safety planning, survivors make preparations to protect their physical safety, their children’s safety, as well as their property and finances.
Community Advocates help clients navigate the public service or other systems a client may need help with, such as medical, mental health, public benefits, housing, transportation, immigration, dependency court / child protective services, and public records systems. This bureaucracy can be confusing to clients, especially for clients who are immigrants, or who do not speak English, or are traumatized or have disabilities or other access needs. A Community Advocate can help a client navigate these systems to get the best possible result.
Community Advocates connect clients to other community resources such as shelter, counseling, healthcare, food and housing assistance. Community Advocates work individually with clients to identify their needs and then do research to find the best resources for the client to meet their needs based on location, languages, cultural responsiveness, and more.