In 2005, Kids First Law Center opened in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to provide legal representation to children in high-conflict custody and divorce cases. Since 2005, the organization has grown to a staff of 17 with five programs serving more than 2,500 children in the Corridor a year.
Kids First offers the following five programs in Linn County:
- Legal representation to children in high-conflict divorce and custody cases. Children’s attorneys reduce the conflict kids are exposed to, strengthen family relationships, connect families to needed services, and make children’s voices heard.
- Educational workshops for all school-age children of divorcing parents in Linn and Johnson Counties to help kids cope with divorce. The class gives kids a confidential and neutral place to talk with other kids about their feelings and to practice problem-solving tools to adjust to family changes.
- Joint parenting sessions for separated parents to help parents find common ground and resolve issues related to parenting, custody, and communication.
- Neutral exchange services so children can go between parents without being exposed to toxic conflict. Coaching helps parents transition to doing exchanges on their own again.
- A restorative justice project in 10 Cedar Rapids Community School District schools where Kids First helps children resolve conflicts with their peers and teachers. This process results in fewer disciplinary referrals and suspensions.
The overall goals for Kids First are to create stability for children, lessen the effect of conflict on kids, connect families to support systems and needed resources, and make children’s voices heard.
At the center, Kids First’s work is a focus on conflict-resolution and changing patterns of behavior to create more positive relationships for kids.