Each of the 3,000-plus children and young adults KidsVoice represents every year has unique needs. On this page, we have compiled a list of resources for our clients, care givers, and all those who want to learn about organizations, programs, and benefits that can help provide a safety net of care, stability, and support for youth in Allegheny County.

How to use the search function

  • select a topic from the dropdown menu to see all items in that category (i.e. - Child Care and Parenting, Employment)
  • enter a keyword into the search bar to search across all categories (i.e. - birth certificate)
  • select a category AND enter a keyword to search within a category (remember to deselect the category at the end of the search)



Specialized Legal Services

If you are a KidsVoice client, KidsVoice helps you to have a voice in the foster care system, both in your daily life and in court. But there are other situations where you may need help. If you are a client, KidsVoice can also help you with:

  • Social Security Income (SSI) appeals
  • Some aspects of Magistrate Hearings if you get into trouble
  • Getting your juvenile record expunged (this means erased from court and other records)
  • Expunging adult withdrawn or dismissed charges.

Preventing unnecessary criminal records and fines can help remove roadblocks to employment and housing.

Advocacy & Legal Services Agencies
Changing a Gender Designation on State ID

The downloadable form, DL-32, allows you to change your gender marker on your PA driver's license or state ID. KidsVoice can help take care of the legal aspects of a name change.

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Child Custody Action: Basic Steps in the Process

See the attached brochure outlining how to file for custody of a child, the process for gaining custody, as well as a list of services at the Child Custody Department.

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Expungement

Clearing Your Juvenile Record

Pennsylvania law provides for the expungement (erasing) of juvenile delinquency records to let you enter adulthood with a “clean slate.” This will protect you from the negative effects of having a criminal record. If you have a juvenile record, you should try to expunge (erase) your record before you leave care so that your record won't get in the way of your future.

Juvenile records are NOT automatically expunged ever.

To ask the court for an expungement, you have to file a petition for expungement. You can do this with a lawyer's help or on your own. If you are a KidsVoice client, contact KidsVoice at 412-391-3100—we can help you petition the court for expungement of your juvenile record.

Why should you get your juvenile record expunged?

Your juvenile delinquency record can hold you back from:

  • Receiving some benefits (like public benefits, public or subsidized housing)
  • Getting certain types of jobs
  • Getting a student loan.
  • Your juvenile record might also cause future problems for you in the child welfare system:
  • Whether or not you can have custody of your own children
  • Whether you can become a foster parent or adopt a child.
  • Your juvenile record may also be taken into consideration and affect the sentencing phase of an adult criminal proceeding.

In summary, expungement is a legal process by which your juvenile record is erased and no one can see it. Your juvenile delinquency record is not confidential or sealed. Your record does not automatically go away when you turn 18. The handy brochure attached will explain what juvenile charges can and what juvenile charges cannot be removed from your record and who to contact to expunge your juvenile record.

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Magistrate Hearing Representation: The KidsVoice Clean Slate Program

If you are a current KidsVoice client and receive a citation or a summons where you will not be provided a public defender, contact your KidsVoice attorney or child advocacy specialist (CAS) to let them know. KidsVoice may be able to represent you at your magistrate hearing or appeal a magistrate decision.

Some examples of magistrate hearings where KidsVoice clients have benefitted from our advocacy include:

  • Truancy offenses
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Harassment
  • Underage drinking
  • Open container

The Clean Slate program, partially underwritten by the Lipman Youth Fund, ensures children charged with minor offenses have a responsible adult to support them before the magistrate when their parents cannot or will not fulfill that obligation. Although KidsVoice youth, like all children, should be held responsible for their actions, the consequences should not depend upon whether they have parental support at Magistrate hearings. KidsVoice attorneys attend magisterial hearings to ensure that these children receive a fair outcome that is equivalent to youth with permanent homes who appear at Magistrate's hearings with parental support.

Contact your KidsVoice lawyer at 412-391-3100 or CAS as soon as you receive notice of the hearing.

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Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS)
Participating In Your Court Hearing

Court hearings are where important decisions get made about your life, and you are required to attend those hearings. In Allegheny County, juvenile court dependency hearings are heard at a courthouse in Pittsburgh known as the Family Law Center, located at 440 Ross Street, Pittsburgh 15219, if the hearing is scheduled before a Judge. If the hearing is scheduled before a Hearing Officer, there are several regional locations throughout the county where those hearings are held. If you have questions about the date and time of your next court hearing, call KidsVoice at 412-391-3100.

It is very important that your Judge hear from you about how things are going and what you want to see happen next with your case. There are a number of ways that you can communicate with the court.

The best way is for you to speak with the Judge yourself—your attorney can help you prepare what you want to say and how to say it. Sometimes, children are uncomfortable saying everything they want to say to the Judge when their parents or foster parents or relatives are present in court. If that is how you are feeling, your attorney can let the Judge know that you prefer to speak with the Judge without certain people being able to hear what you are saying.

Another way to let your Judge know what you are thinking is for you to write your thoughts on paper and present it to the judge at the hearing.

You can also let the court know what is going on by having your attorney tell the judge how you are feeling and what you want to see happen in your case. Your attorney is always available to do this for you at any hearing.

In addition to letting the court know what you are thinking, another important reason to attend court hearings is that you will hear what else is going on in your case—what others are doing or saying. In other words, you will have the full picture and hopefully a better understanding of why the Judge is making certain decisions. 

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Social Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a cash assistance benefit for kids who are disabled and adults who have a disability that prevents them from working.

You apply for SSI through the Social Security Administration. The process can take a long time because the Social Security office must review your medical or mental health records (depending on your disability) and get information on how you function. Call 1-800-772-1213 to begin an application and find out the location of the closest Social Security office. You can also find out more about the process on the Social Security Administration's website at www.ssa.gov.

You should work with your case worker to prepare your application for SSI at least 6 months before you plan to leave care. This means completing the application and providing any records or documents to prove that you have a disability. Submit your application for SSI and all of the supporting material (like medical and mental health records) 90 days before you plan to discharge from care so that you can plan better for your transition.

You're not guaranteed to receive SSI as an adult when you leave care, even if you receive SSI as a minor. Each kid who receives SSI must go through what is called “Age 18 Redetermination.” This is when the Social Security Administration reviews your medical and/or mental health treatment information to determine if you meet the criteria of adult eligibility for SSI payments.

If you're determined to be ineligible for SSI at this redetermination and you don't agree with the decision, you may appeal the decision. If you are a KidsVoice client, KidsVoice can help you with the appeals process. If you're found ineligible during the redetermination process, you can continue to receive SSI benefits if you begin to receive state vocational rehabilitation (OVR) agency services prior to your 18th birthday.

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The Name Change Project from Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

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