The Children’s Law Project of Hawaiʻi

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Our Mission

The Children’s Law Project of Hawaiʻi is a nonprofit law firm empowering children through youth-focused legal advocacy. When children are the subject of court proceedings, their needs are often drowned out by adult conflict. We cut through the fray, listen to the children we serve, and fight to ensure that institutions put our keiki’s needs first.


Our attorneys specialize in acting as Guardians ad litem (GALs), lawyers who investigate children’s circumstances and advocate for their best interests in family court. We serve as GALs for foster children, as well as children who are otherwise court-involved, either in truancy cases, juvenile law offender cases, or in cases where parents are engaged in contested custody disputes. Children often do not have a meaningful way of participating in the family court cases that affect their lives, and we serve to engage them and give them a voice in these proceedings. Aside from representing children as GALs, we also support the broader community of advocates here on Hawaiʻi Island. Finally, the Children’s Law Project also represents non-parent caregivers in guardianship and adoption proceedings.

Family Court Advocacy

As GALs for children in foster custody, we take a broad view of our young client’s needs.  By following best practices and advocating for trauma-informed care, we seek to connect our clients with the services they need to heal from their experiences.  We strive to give our clients a voice and empower them to participate in the child protective services process. As GALs in contested custody, divorce, and protective order matters, we fight to ensure that our clients’ best interests are met.  As advocates for children, we investigate the circumstances of the case, report to the parties and the court, encourage settlement in children’s best interests, and connect the family with community resources.

Abolishing Barriers to Learning and Education (ABLE) Program

The ABLE Program is a collaborative, community-based approach to addressing chronic school non-attendance. The ABLE Program allows family court judges on Hawaiʻi Island to appoint GALs for students with pending truancy cases. When a child is regularly absent from school, it can often be a sign of distress elsewhere in his or her life. Children’s Law Project GALs investigate the circumstances surrounding the child’s truancy, report findings to the court, and make recommendations for a course of action in the best interest of the child. By identifying at-risk children early and providing a consistent supportive intervention, we can not only determine what barriers to education a child is facing, but also ensure their continued safety and wellbeing.

Project Permanence

Through Project Permanence, we work to establish adoptions and legal guardianships for children whose parents are not able to safely care for them. First, we seek to prevent child welfare involvement by establishing a legal relationship between children and non-parent caregivers. Second, Project Permanence seeks to get children already involved with child welfare services out of the foster care system by establishing guardianships and adoptions. Ultimately, the goal of this project is to help children live in permanent homes and forge lifelong connections to stable families.

Supporting Guardians ad litem

The Children’s Law Project also works to expand and support our community of child advocates on Hawaiʻi Island. Our GAL Resource Center in Hilo provides a safe, confidential, child-friendly environment where GALs can interview their clients and caregivers. It also provides a library with resource materials, trainings, and collaborative meetings for GALs. By supporting and training GALs, we seek to maximize the level of advocacy on our community offers court-involved children on Hawaiʻi Island.


Our highly skilled, passionate and committed attorneys fight to ensure the well-being and future success of our young clients


Valerie J. Grab

Executive Director

A graduate of the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy at UCLA, Valerie J. Grab has advocated for children on Hawaiʻi Island since 2011. Ms. Grab was a Staff and Managing Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi’s Hilo Office, and practiced in public interest law firms in California and Washington DC. She was a Research Attorney for the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court in Los Angeles, and is licensed to practice in Hawaiʻi, California and DC.


Our Firm

The Children’s Law Project of Hawaiʻi serves court-involved children across Hawaiʻi Island by practicing in all three of our island’s family courts. Hawaiʻi Island is a rural community with a disproportionate number of children living in poverty. A significant number of these children are involved with family court (including foster custody jurisdiction, domestic violence matters or contested custody cases). We seek to ensure their contact with the justice system is as fair, productive, and efficient as possible.


Madeline M. Reed

Managing Attorney

Madeline Reed was born in Berkeley, California, but has been a resident of Hawaiʻi Island since 2003. Before moving to Hawaiʻi, she graduated cum laude from Columbia University in 2000. In 2009, Ms. Reed graduated summa cum laude from the William S. Richardson School of Law, where she served on the University of Hawaiʻi Law Review, earned an Environmental Law Certificate, and won a number of awards for academic achievement. For the past several years, Ms. Reed has focused on Child Welfare Law, and is certified as a Child Welfare Law Specialist by the National Association of Counsel for Children.*

Our Offices

CLPHI has offices in Waimea and Hilo. To reach us, see the contact information below

  • Hilo Hilo Lagoon Center Suite 1014 (Main Office and GAL Resource Center)
    Waimea PO Box 437285, Kamuela HI 96743
  • (808) 825-4080