CLAIM (Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers)

Legal Services

Are you an incarcerated mother?

Are you a caregiver for a child whose mother is incarcerated?

We can help you if you have questions about:

  • Divorce
  • Guardianship
  • Short-term guardianship
  • Discharge of guardianship
  • Custody
  • Visitation
  • Foster Care
  • Adoption

Guidelines: CLAIM offers legal services on family law to incarcerated mothers, formerly incarcerated mothers and caregivers of children whose parents are incarcerated. We do not provide representation for criminal law cases. The case must be in Illinois. CLAIM regularly visits women at Cook County Jail, Decatur Correctional Center, Lincoln Correctional Center, Dwight Correctional Center, and the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.

Client Education

CLAIM regularly conducts on-site classes to women incarcerated in:

  • Cook County Jail
  • Decatur Correctional Center
  • Lincoln Correctional Center
  • Dwight Correctional Center
  • Fox Valley Work Release Center
  • Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago

We provide basic information on family law, enabling us to assist more women than we can serve in one-on-one sessions. Class topics include: Placement issues Short-term and court-ordered guardianship The foster care system Termination of parental rights Domestic relations law The “best interest of the child” standard. We also provide practical tips and advice that empower the women to be their own advocates and to work through the legal system. We distribute Parental Rights and Responsibilities to everyone who attends these classes.

CLAIM's Speakers' Bureau

CLAIM's Speakers' Bureau is made up of formerly incarcerated women who have the courage and the drive to share their experience with others. Trained public speakers, they speak to university classes, church groups, and at conferences and other civic events. Audience members regularly comment on the poignancy, clarity, and power of our speakers as they share their personal stories. When Speakers' Bureau members engage with their audiences they break down stereotypes, educate the public, and open hearts and minds to CLAIM's work.

Visible Voices

Visible Voices is CLAIM's peer support and empowerment group. The group, run by and for formerly incarcerated women, is dedicated to building our skills, creating humane policy change and to advocating for incarcerated women. Visible Voices meets at the Grace House transitional home near the United Center on west Adams Street, at CLAIM, or at other locations for special events. Call us about upcoming events including a trip to the Children's Museum with children or grandchildren, and an initiative to strengthen our group voice!

Members of Visible Voices:

  • Support and empower one another as they transition back into the community and advocate for change.
  • Discuss and share information on local and national issues impacting the prison system and social justice movements. Build skills and confidence.
  • Discuss the impact of prison on themselves, their families and their communities. Promote change in state practices.
  • Break down stereotypes surrounding incarcerated women.

Visible Voices members take part in events and discussions designed to help them rebuild their self-esteem, to engage their point of view and leverage their experience, and to empower them to take action. Incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women are too often told that their point of view doesn't matter. Visible Voices reminds them that what they have to say is important and valued, and that they can make a difference.

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