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KidsVoice: Protecting Children's Rights
Founded in 1908 as the Legal Aid Society of Pittsburgh, KidsVoice provides the full-service advocacy that every abused, abandoned, voiceless and vulnerable child deserves. Many of the children KidsVoice represents, in addition to being neglected or abused, must overcome significant physical and mental disabilities. Their conditions range from developmental delays, neonatal drug addiction and AIDS to severe brain damage, suicidal depression and critical organ failure.

KidsVoice provides a voice of hope, a voice for rights and a voice of experience for children who otherwise cannot speak for themselves. KidsVoice vigilantly guides each child through the court process and ensures that every agency involved meets the full range of the child’s needs. Through in-depth investigation, KidsVoice delivers informed recommendations and advocates in court for the child's best interests –in court and beyond-- making a dramatic difference in the lives of children, parents and the community at large. KidsVoice ensures that the most appropriate services are in place to protect children from future harm, with the ultimate goal of providing a safe and permanent home for every child.

Legal Representation and More
Almost every child represented by KidsVoice lacks minimally adequate or safe parenting. Many states, including Pennsylvania, require the appointment of an attorney as a guardian ad litem to advocate in court for the best interests of every abused and neglected child. KidsVoice does that - and much more.

KidsVoice has established a new standard for child advocacy that expands well beyond representation in court. It uses a new model of advocacy - a multi-disciplinary approach - that provides comprehensive services and takes full account of each child's physical and emotional needs. KidsVoice teams attorneys with in-house child advocacy specialists - experts in social work, mental health, education, child development, case management and substance abuse services. Through the staff's collective knowledge on advocacy issues and nationwide experience representing children, KidsVoice has developed a revolutionary approach that delivers more effective representation. This new approach is designed with specific protocols and outcome measures so that the success of KidsVoice can be replicated across the country by other child advocacy agencies.

The Three Voices of Advocacy
KidsVoice provides a voice of hope, a voice for rights and a voice of experience for children who otherwise cannot speak for themselves.

A Voice of Hope . . .
Abused and neglected children have been denied far more than legal rights. They lack self-esteem, dignity and often are without even the basic sense of safety and security every child should have at home. Many children believe that their family situation is permanent and beyond their control. The support of KidsVoice gives abused and neglected children the hope that their lives can change for the better, with the knowledge that:

- they are not alone and that other children and families with similar issues have found solutions;
- they are not responsible for their parents' actions;
- there is someone who understands their situation and will represent their interests and explain the proceedings.

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A Voice for Rights . . .
Children are entitled to protection under the law, especially children whose health and life may be in jeopardy due to conditions in their own home. KidsVoice advocates not only for individual children, but also on other levels to champion the cause of children and protect every child's right to a safe and permanent home.

KidsVoice advocates for children:
- in all legal proceedings - protecting children's rights in courts, school proceedings, and individual, class action and appellate cases;
- before the legislature - lobbying and advocating to change laws and secure adequate funding for children's issues;
- in the community - representing children's best interests in the community to ensure that needs and rights of children are heard and understood.

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A Voice of Experience . . .
Children are unprepared to deal with the issues presented in abuse and neglect cases. KidsVoice brings years of experience in safeguarding the best interests of children, including knowledge of:

- the signs of child abuse and neglect;
- ways to help family members;
- the importance of attachment and bonding;
- the significance of sibling and extended family connections;
- the dynamics of family violence;
- the appropriate placement and services to choose from among mental health, educational, substance abuse and family support services;
- how seemingly little things make a difference – like having an appropriate pair of eyeglasses, and clothes and shoes that fit.

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1908 - 2008: Celebrating 100 years of legal advocacy for children and vulnerable citizens.