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The Support Center for Child Advocates will celebrate 30 years of service to Philadelphia children with a gala reception on April 26 at the Union League. The history of the agency and its work, which began six years earlier than its 1977 incorporation, tell a story about the future of children’s rights and lawyering for children. One day in 1971, Judge Lois Forer and young attorney Meg Greenfield met on the street in Philadelphia. This newly elected judge explained to Greenfield that children were involved in child welfare cases with no one to represent them. About the same time, Judge Hazel Brown phoned attorney Jim Redeker, looking for a guardian ad litem to represent a baby. In June of 1971, the Young Lawyers Division of the Philadelphia Bar Association formed the committee on child abuse, with Greenfield and Redeker as chairs, with a mandate to help fill the gap in legal services for children for whom reports of abuse had been filed. The word went out. Meanwhile, in March 1972, social worker Solomon Levy petitioned the Family Court to intervene and appoint counsel for a 10-year-old boy who had been hospitalized from severe physical abuse. Greenfield recruited her Pepper Hamilton & Scheetz colleagues Arthur Pressman, Jeffrey Hayes and the late Lloyd Ziff, to represent this child, F.A. These early child advocates worked through the night of May 18, 1972, preparing their petition for extraordinary relief to the state Supreme Court. They had been denied access to the child’s records, and even access to the child. But these young lawyers prevailed and won the right for a child’s lawyer to gain access to his records on the case. That was only the beginning. In March 1974, The Legal Intelligencer reported that the child abuse committee was “receiving an unprecedented number of referrals from hospitals.” The committee had 75 volunteer lawyers, including Faith Angell, Marlene Lachman, Howard Harrison, John Mullican, Thomas Bell, Edward Fitzgerald, James Mundy, Harry Oxman, Steve Green, Lou Paul and Norb Bergholtz. Robert Schwartz, Judith Chomsky, Marsha Levick and Philip Margolis were frequent volunteers after their graduation from Temple Law School and the opening of the Juvenile Law Center in 1975. Most of the early referrals came from the hospitals, but calls from judges like Nicholas Cipriani and Edward Rosenberg and even some courageous internal Department of Public Welfare sources would soon inundate the informal mechanism. Four cases in 1972; 22 cases in 1973; 60 in 1974; 74 children in 1975. Volunteer faculty offered a new multidisciplinary training program in child abuse at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in a program that continues to this day at the bar education center. Of course, the cases kept coming. Meanwhile in the legislature and academia, child abuse was getting the world’s attention. Our founders worked with state Sen. Michael O’Pake to draft the new Juvenile Act and the child advocate legislation. In 1975 as well, Peg O’Shea would found the Child Advocacy Unit at the Defender Association, and the right to counsel would become institutionalized. In the mid-’70s, some lawyers saw volunteer service as competition for fee-generating work, but the leadership of the Philadelphia Bar Association stood tall. When Greenfield and Redeker were honored by the Philadelphia Bar Association with the Fidelity Award in 1976, they announced that the Pennsylvania Public Health Trust Fund had awarded $60,000 as seed money from an antitrust action. On Feb. 1, 1977, the Support Center for Child Advocates was incorporated. The first board president was Libby Fishman. Carol Schrier was hired as the first executive director, fresh out of Temple Law School. Dechert donated office space, and Pepper Hamilton and Morgan Lewis & Bockius gave furniture. In 1978, a foundation sent a large three-year grant, telling Redeker and Schrier, “We are looking for funky things to fund, and you are about as funky as we can get.” The group moved to 1315 Walnut Street in 1978, and to 801 Arch Street and the Equal Justice Center in 1991. Naomi Post succeeded Schrier as executive director in 1983, and Paul DiLorenzo followed in 1987. The board of directors appointed General Counsel Frank Cervone as executive director in 1992. From the Guardian ad Litem Project and Adoption and Foster Care Task Force of the 1980s, to the Children of Substance Abusing Families (ChildSAF) and the Teen Permanency Project of the 1990s, to the current domestic violence/child abuse initiative Families Without Violence, Child Advocates has worked to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and to improve the system of care. First convened in 1984, the Law Enforcement Child Abuse Project (LECAP) continues to meet monthly to examine and reform the front-end of child abuse cases. Filed in 1990, the decade-long federal class action known as Baby Neal – with our clients as class members and our staff and volunteers serving as next friends – brought sweeping changes at Department of Human Services and Family Court. The agency co-sponsored the first National Conference on Kinship Care in 1991, and continues to advance the field with Kids’n'Kin: The Caregiving Program. Volunteer Attorneys for Medically Needy Children was recognized with the 1999 SmithKline Beecham Community Health Impact Award, and GlaxoSmithKline honored our outcomes work in 2006 . In 2000, we received the Please Touch Museum’s Great Friend to Kids Award. The National Children’s Law Network, led by Child Advocates, will launch its Legal Services Outcomes Database at www.NCLNetwork.org this spring. Growth has been incremental and steady: 12 staff members in 1993; 15 staff members and a then-record 552 children served in 1996; 27 staff members and 700 children served in 2005, and probably that number or more in 2007. We moved into our own building at 1900 Cherry Street in 2002, creating a visual presence on the Philadelphia landscape. In all, we have trained more than 3,000 lawyers and with our dedicated volunteers and staff, represented at least 4,000 children. The work has grown more difficult, the funding remains largely charitable – and thin. Our tasks grow: community leadership, briefs amicus curiae, policy initiatives, training sessions, community education programs, and all the rest. Child Advocates remains the place to call for a lawyer for a child. Thirty years and thousands of child clients later, we continue to answer that call. FRANK P. CERVONE is executive director of the Support Center for Child Advocates. Information about the 30th anniversary Benefit Reception and Auction can be found at www.advokid.org.

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