2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Sara Wheeler

Sara Wheeler

Name of Host Organization: Southeastern Ohio Legal Services
City, State: Newark, Ohio
Sponsors: The Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation

The Project

Sara provided holistic, civil legal representation to children and families of children involved in the juvenile justice system.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Children in the juvenile justice system often have a range of underlying issues that cause or exacerbate their juvenile court involvement. Often their families struggle with maintaining safe, affordable housing; acquiring public benefits; accessing health care; and other issues commonly affecting low-income families. In addition, many children involved in the juvenile justice system lack adequate educational supports, such as Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for children with disabilities. The juvenile court system is not equipped to address the myriad needs associated with a child’s juvenile court involvement. Addressing the underlying issues will promote family stability and improve children’s chances of leaving the juvenile justice system sooner and staying out permanently.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During her Fellowship, Sara has:
• Provided civil legal assistance to 87 low-income clients and their families in matters ranging from education to domestic violence
• Informed schools about the educational rights of students and parents through direct representation of clients
• Trained juvenile court personnel and other community groups regarding civil legal issues common to her clients
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Sara will continue to represent low-income clients at Southeastern Ohio Legal Services as a staff attorney.

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