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Amanda Alvarez and her baby Liliana

Amanda Alvarez and her daughter Liliana are together, and Alvarez is in college, thanks in large part to the help of a legal aid attorney whose Legal Advocates for Minor Mothers Project is helping pregnant and parenting teens break the cycle of dependency.

Florida Bar Foundation-funded Equal Justice Works project helps break the cycle of dependency

by Nancy Kinnally

Amanda Alvarez, 18, comes across as that recent high school grad who racked up a long list of achievements.

She has the poise, diction and vocabulary of a student council president. With her long, dark hair, tasteful makeup and neat-as-a-pin pencil skirt, she has the grace and style of a homecoming queen. Out of a desire to help others, she plans to become a registered nurse. She appears so put-together, in fact, that the reality of her high school career is almost unfathomable.

It lasted all of one month before she was kicked out. And that wasn't the first time. In spite of her 3.9 grade point average, she was expelled in the eighth grade.

"I would get suspended and then come back and ace the test," Alvarez said. "I've always been intellectual."

But it's hard to be the all-American girl when your father is in prison and your mother is abusing drugs and getting you hooked as well. At 17, instead of picking out her prom dress, Alvarez was incarcerated and pregnant.

She faced the distinct possibility of losing her baby in two ways. First, she was a high-risk pregnancy, eventually giving birth to a 1-pound, 7-ounce baby girl. Second, she was facing charges that could have resulted in her baby going into the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Enter Ashley Wilson, an Equal Justice Works Fellow funded by The Florida Bar Foundation and the law firm of Greenberg Traurig.

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Kids Deserve Justice

Please remember the children in your community whose legal needs would go unmet were it not for legal aid. If you supported the Foundation’s Children’s Legal Services Grant Program through your Florida Bar annual fee statement, thank you. It's never too late to give, or to add to your support. You can always give online.