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Children’s Rights Announces Leecia Welch as New Lead Counsel

Contact: Camilla Jenkins, cjenkins@childrensrights.com

(New York, NY)—National child welfare organization Children’s Rights has added Leecia Welch to its team as a new Lead Counsel.

Welch brings extensive legal experience in the child welfare field, including 16 years at the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland where she was the Senior Director of Child Welfare and Legal Advocacy specializing in child welfare, mental health, immigration, and education issues.

Welch is co-counsel in the seminal Flores v. Garland case, representing a nationwide class of detained immigrant children to enforce a settlement that governs their release and treatment in federal immigration custody. Welch also previously served as co-counsel with Children’s Rights in M.B. v. Tidball, a groundbreaking case resulting in a settlement reforming the use of psychotropic medications on children in Missouri’s foster care system, and M.B. v. Howard, which addressed extreme housing instability and inadequate mental health care services for foster children in Kansas.  For three years, she was lead counsel on David C. v. Huntsman, a class action lawsuit in Utah that resulted in significant reforms of the foster care system.

“Leecia has an incredibly impressive record of litigation that has demonstrably improved the lives of thousands of children around the country,” said Sandy Santana, executive director of Children’s Rights. “I am thrilled to have her join our team after years of work together, and I look forward to working with her more closely to hold governments accountable for the well-being of children in their care at a time when the COVID-19 crisis has made the need for reform even more urgent.”

“I feel fortunate to be able to devote my career to children’s advocacy, and it’s an honor and a privilege to be joining Children’s Rights’ legal team. I am thrilled to work with Children’s Rights in this new role as we continue our fight to secure systemic reforms that support the well-being of children and families and advance racial justice,” said Welch.

Welch also teaches a course in litigating children’s civil rights at UC Berkeley School of Law and has overseen several projects to improve the educational opportunities of youth in foster care in the Bay Area, including training Berkeley law students to become educational representatives for youth in care. Prior to joining the National Center for Youth Law in 2004, Welch was an associate in the litigation department at San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster LLP, and spent three years focusing her time nearly exclusively on Williams v. State of California, a class action lawsuit that resulted in increased funding, oversight and resources for California’s public school system.

Welch earned her J.D. Magna Cum Laude from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 1996 where she graduated in the first class of Civitas ChildLaw fellows. She was an editor of the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, and the Children’s Legal Rights Journal. She earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University with distinction and Phi Beta Kappa. Among her honors, Welch was awarded the 2007 ABA Young Lawyers Division Child Advocacy Award and recently received the 2021 Janet Reno Endowment Women’s Leadership Award.

Welch will begin her new role on September 14, and will work with the Children’s Rights team to expand its work related to the treatment of children in state foster care systems and federal immigration detention.

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