News and Information
May 25, 2007

JustChildren Founder Selected to Receive Virginia Legal Aid Award



Andrew K. Block Jr., who in 1998 started the Charlottesville-based JustChildren child advocacy program and now serves as its legal director, has been selected to receive the Virginia State Bar’s 2007 Legal Aid Award. The award recognizes innovation and creativity in advocacy, experience and excellence in service and influence beyond the recipient’s service area.

He was nominated by Alex R. Gulotta, executive director of the Charlottesville-based Legal Aid Justice Center, which hosts the JustChildren Program. Gulotta wrote that Block “is one of the most successful and influential child advocacy attorneys in the United States.???

Block and his 10-member team have tackled many projects that have had a statewide impact through JustChildren, Gulotta said. They have helped hundreds of children and families access education, mental health and other critical services and they have trained thousands of lawyers and other professionals statewide to be effective child advocates. JustChildren produced a manual, Helping You Help Your Child: a Focus on Education, which it uses in advocacy training programs for parents living in poverty.

Their successes have included increased per-pupil funding for Virginia’s at-risk pre school program; resources to improve education stability for foster children; resources to ensure that mental health and education plans are in place for children who return home from criminal justice facilities; and improvements to self-help materials the state Department of Education provides to parents of children with disabilities.

Block is a graduate of Yale University and Northwestern University School of Law. Before law school he taught for a year in a rural Kenyan village and spent two years leading wilderness trips in New Mexico for young people in the state’s juvenile justice and mental health systems. Before he moved to Charlottesville, Block worked at the Defender Association of Seattle-King County in Washington.

His work to found JustChildren was funded by a Soros Justice Fellowship.

Block, who also founded the Child Advocacy Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law, is a 2005 recipient of the American Bar Association’s Child Advocacy Award, presented by the ABA Young Lawyers Division. He is married to Kelli Sutton Block and is the father of three daughters: Sage, Maya, and Eden.

The Legal Aid Award will be presented June 15, during a luncheon at the Virginia State Bar annual meeting. The event will be at the Cavalier-Oceanfront Hotel in Virginia Beach. First Lady Anne B. Holton will be the luncheon speaker.

Updated: May 25, 2007