2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Stephanie Truong

Stephanie Truong

City, State: Houston, Texas
Issue area: Children/Youth
Sponsors: Texas Access to Justice Foundation

The Project

Stephanie provided legal advocacy and support to youth aging out of foster care in Harris County, Texas, to improve their social, educa-tional, and occupational opportunities in adulthood.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
In 2011, Harris County had 2,630 youth in long-term foster care. Judges rarely appoint attorneys to these cases due to budgetary constraints and limited resources and when they do, there are no uniform court practices established to ensure proper representation and case oversight. Many of these youth age out of the system without the resources or support necessary to obtain employment, higher education, or housing, leading to high risk for homelessness, drug abuse, mental health issues, and contact with the criminal justice system. Most youth have no advocate to help them transition out of the foster care system, resulting in many youth suffering from unidentified problems and insufficient support, which ultimately hinders their ability to live independently.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During the Fellowship, Stephanie has:
• Represented 22 youth and young adults in Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC) of the state by increasing access to appropriate medical, special education, and transitional services and advocating for least restrictive placement
• Assisted nine clients’ transition out of foster care with access to safe and stable housing, education, and employment opportunities
• Partnered with a district court to conduct best practices in PMC cases with a focus on youth engagement in hearings and published a report on the findings
• Coordinated and hosted a continuing legal education training for 35 child welfare attorneys and volunteer advocates
• Created five free online tutorials for students and attorneys interested in representing transition-aged youth in foster care
• Served as Legal Subcommittee Community Lead of the Harris County Child Welfare Collaborative, a local initiative created to strategize and implement practical, effective reform to the current system

© 2017 Equal Justice Works - 1730 M Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036-4511