Helping Vulnerable Kids Be Seen and Heard

By Giving List Staff   |   November 18, 2022
When kids trust their lawyers, like this young man who has his lawyer Emily on speed dial does, everyone wins. Youth are able to authentically voice their needs; and judges and service providers have the opportunity to meet them.

Here’s something you might not expect to hear from foster kids: “I want to spend more time with my lawyer.”

But this is the sentiment Kristin Mateer hears from the hundreds of kids her organization, East Bay Children’s Law Offices (EBCLO), represents in court each year.

Launched in 2009, when the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office closed its dependency practice, Mateer and her colleagues wanted to create an organization that could more effectively – and compassionately – represent traumatized young people navigating the byzantine court system.

Visiting with youth in the communities in which they live is so important to understanding their needs. More than half of EBCLO’s clients live outside of the county. EBCLO lawyers and social workers drove over 70,000 miles last year visiting clients.

The Oakland-based nonprofit has a sterling reputation for what Mateer, its Executive Director, calls “holistic, vigorous legal advocacy,” helping youth understand their rights, express their needs, and be guided through a complex series of systems including the child welfare, education, probation, and mental health systems.

Mateer and her colleagues believe in youth, and this belief is reflected in EBCLO’s motto: “Children should be seen & heard.” This respect helps their clients trust in them as adults committed to family reunification – or, if that is impossible, legal permanency through adoption or guardianship or sometimes “emancipating” at age 21. In 2021, EBCLO advocated at nearly 5,000 court hearings, and helped almost 300 youth reunify with their families.

The ripple effect of EBCLO’s work is part of its power. EBCLO recently represented a toddler girl removed from a family struggling with domestic violence and drug abuse. It was not until the girl’s mother trusted that EBCLO’s goal was the same as hers – for the family to reunify – that she moved forward with substance abuse treatment. It was the EBCLO attorney who pushed the Court to send her client home having observed her and her mother together at home during weekend visits.

With the pandemic stressing the education system to the breaking point, EBCLO is also furthering its partnership with schools by identifying children’s special needs and connecting their clients to supports at school. And EBCLO is expanding its Youth Voices Group, a brain trust of previous youth clients who can gain the trust of children beginning their journey into this process, and show what’s possible on the other side of their traumas.

During 2021, as COVID’s impact on struggling families became increasingly clear, EBCLO’s message got through to a lot of Bay Area folks. The number of supporters rose by 40%, running the gamut from very small gifts, to a few unexpected larger donations.

EBCLO is listening to, and helping, the most vulnerable members of our community.

Are we?


East Bay Children’s Law Offices

Donate now!
(510) 496-5261
Executive Director: Kristin Mateer


The Mission of East Bay Children’s Law Offices is to protect and defend the rights of children and youth through holistic, vigorous legal advocacy. EBCLO strives to provide a voice for children in and out of the courtroom and to promote positive outcomes for them.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

“The value of having a lawyer is having someone by your side who can advocate for you in court when you may feel uneasy talking in front of a lot of people about your case. They can also let your team know about your goals and any bumps in the road you might face. Sometimes lawyers even keep in touch years later to provide support or be someone to talk to.”
Autumn Badheartbull-Clark
EBCLO Youth Voices Group
Former EBCLO Client

Help Provide a Voice for Children

East Bay Children’s Law Offices protects and defends the rights of children and youth through holistic, vigorous legal advocacy. Your donations can help us provide a voice for children in and out of the courtroom and to promote positive outcomes for them.

•$5,000 can fund surveying 200 clients so their lived experiences can guide our vigorous advocacy.

•$2,500 ensures 12 foster youth have uniquely tailored education plans at school.

•$1,000 means immediate intervention and visits to five youth in juvenile hall.

•$500 can fund a year’s worth of fidget toys, coloring books, and snacks at the courthouse to reduce the traumatic experience of court.

•$100 can fund a roundtrip visit to one of the 46% of our clients who live outside the county.

Key Supporters

Kelson Foundation
Younger Family Fund
Zellerbach Family Foundation
The Greg Smith Charitable Fund
Bernard E. & Alba Witkin Charitable
van Loben Sels/RembeRock Foundation
The Morris Stulsaft Foundation
Firedoll Foundation
Jennifer & Steve Roop
Quest Foundation
Bigglesworth Family Foundation
William G. Gilmore Foundation
Share the Spirit
Legal Services Funders Network
Winnie & David Lau
The Barrios Trust
Susan Cody
Oakland Athletics Community Fund
Oakland Thrives
Ticket to Dream Foundation
Hartog, Baer, Zabronsky & Verriere
Daniel Kim & Charmaine Wong