The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Children's Issues Index

Children's Law Support Project

Welcome to the Children’s Issues Index.

Legal issues affecting children arise in every type of legal case, including housing, education, public benefits and health. The Children’s Law Support Project developed this index to help advocates who may not specialize in children's law issues learn more about the other issues affecting the children in their cases so that they can provide families with appropriate information and direction.  For example, an advocate working on a housing issue -- with the right information -- can provide information to help a parent navigate the process to request special education services. 

This index is a work in progress -- if you have additional questions or issue areas you would like to see addressed, please let us know by completing the feedback form, linked to this page above.

Click on the bulleted topics below to read our Questions and Answers or to download fact sheets.

Child Care

Child Support

  • How does a custodial parent get child support?  What if the parents were never married? What does the Department of Revenue do? Are there any risks to pursuing child support?  For answers to these and more questions, see the MassLegalHelp website, child support section

Child Welfare/DCF

  • What is a 51A?   What is a C&P (Care & Protection)? When is a child removed from a home on an emergency basis?  See the Care and Protection fact sheet.

Children being raised by Grandparents

  • There are thousands of children in Massachusetts being raised by their grandparents. Many grandparents will have questions about legal rights, benefits, and available resources to enable them to care for these children.  The Massachusetts Executive office of Elder Affairs has prepared a number of resource that be can downloaded:

CRA (formerly CHINS) issues







  • Shelter and homelessness prevention: The main programs serving children whose families are homeless are Emergency Assistance and HomeBASE both of which are run by the Mass. Department of Housing and Community Development.To learn more about how these programs work, see the Emergency Assistance Advocacy Guide. /content/2014-emergency-assistance-advocacy-guide-0
  • DCF oversees domestic violence shelters which are generally limited to people at immediate safety risk due to domestic violence. A family can see if they can access domestic violence shelter by calling SafeLink at 1-877-785-2020.
  • Rights of Homeless Students under the McKinney-Vento Act
    • Each year, the state identifies more than 12,000 students who are homeless, but thousands more are not identified.  Identifying these students and enforcing their rights to education is critical to providing stability and maximizing their chances for educational success.

Housing- In development. Please check back.

  • What can be done when the conditions of a housing unit are problematic?

Immigration Rights for Youth-  In development. Please check back.

SNAP (Food Stamps) and School Meals

SSI for children


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