Just for Kids Law provides advocacy, support and assistance to young people in difficulty; particularly those in trouble with the law, looked after children and those at risk of exclusion from school. They combine specialist legal representation (often pro bono) with individualized packages of support to address the multiple and complex issues that the young people face and that prevents them fully engaging within society. Once their lives are stabilized they work with opportunities program to get into positive activities including work, education or training.
They were established in May 2006 based on the experiences of the founding directors, Shauneen Lambe and Aika Stephenson, who were working as legal aid lawyers and representing children in criminal courts. In their extensive work with vulnerable children they repeatedly found an environment that failed to take an all-encompassing view of the needs of the child/young person. They found that the children they represented in criminal proceedings often had much wider needs outside good criminal representation. Many of the problems in their lives—exclusion from school, unstable housing, mental health problems—remained unresolved.
The vision is not just about keeping children out of prison but keeping them out of the youth justice system. They envisage a society where children are seen for the good in them, not judged by the bad; where all children are able to reach their potential irrelevant of class, race or gender. They believe that by seeing good in children, they encourage them to be good.