In 2005, Kids First Law Center opened in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to give children a voice in custody and divorce conflicts. Since then, the organization has grown to a staff of 18 with five programs serving more than 2,500 children a year in Linn and Johnson Counties. Kids First is the premier organization in Iowa focused on mitigating the negative effects of divorce and custody conflicts on children.
Parental separation is one of the most traumatic events a child can experience. At Kids First, we believe that children can come through a family's separation more successfully if their parents refrain from fighting in their presence and if their home environment is safe. Children can break the pattern of conflict if they and their parents gain and employ constructive conflict resolution and communication skills. When children have a voice and a positive adult influence as a mentor, they are more likely to be successful in school and in their family and social relationships.
Our attorneys provide legal advocacy for children whose parents are engaged in high-conflict custody battles. Our therapist brings separated parents together for joint parenting sessions to facilitate communication and co-parenting. We also offer workshops for children of divorcing parents where kids see they are not alone, have misconceptions about divorce clarified, and gain skills to manage emotions and adjust to family changes.
At Kids First, our overall goals are to:
- reduce parental conflict,
- strengthen family relationships,
- connect parents and kids with needed resources, and
- make children’s voices heard.