Lincoln, Gustafson & Cercos is proud to announce that its Las Vegas office has begun working with the Legal Aide Center of Southern Nevada to help provide representation to children in the Las Vegas area.
The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing direct legal representation, counsel and advice and community legal education to those who cannot afford an attorney. Through the Children’s Attorney Project (“CAP”) attorneys provide counsel, advice and representation to abused and neglected children who have never before had representation. These attorneys serve as the child’s voice before the court and community allowing the children to take an active role (and responsibility) in their own destiny.
The Children’s Attorneys Project was formed in 1999 from a task force of County Commissioners, Clark County District Court, social workers, attorneys, family law judges and state children’s rights workers. The fundamental goal was to create a method for abused and neglected children who are in foster care placement, institutions or wards of the state to have a voice in court and speak out for their destiny.
Children who have fallen into the CAP program and are seeking representation are those that have been removed from their homes and most of the time do not understand or comprehend what is occurring. Nevada law requires that Child Protective Services (CPS) investigate reports of child abuse or neglect. If CPS believes a child has been abused, neglected, or is otherwise in need of protection, CPS has the authority to place the child into protective custody, petition the court for custody of the child, or offer services to the family of the child. What CPS does depends on the circumstances of each family; the goal is to ensure the safety of children who have been reported as being abused or neglected and protect them from the risk of further harm. However, CPS does not represent the children or present the children’s wishes during any legal hearing with the courts. Right now, less than 50% of all children removed from their homes in Southern Nevada are represented by counsel. This means that in over 50% of cases, the court never hears the voice of these children — never hears their wants or needs — yet these children are permanently affected by any decision the court makes.
Lincoln, Gustafson and Cercos’s Las Vegas office, along with Las Vegas Defense Lawyers (an organization founded by partner Tom Lincoln), has teamed up with Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada to help represent children through the CAP program. Lincoln Gustafson and Cercos hopes that in forming a relationship with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada and helping where its attorneys can, more children will have their voices heard within our legal system. Lincoln Gustafson and Cercos recognizes the need for attorneys to perform pro bono work and is looking forward to helping the community and showing the children that there are people out there willing to help give them a voice.