Claudia Dunne, MSW, LICSW, Director of Social Work Services & Private Social Work Vendors
7 Palmer Street • Suite 302 • Roxbury, MA 02119 Tel: 617-910-5753 (office)

Latest News (click here)

Holistic defense levels the playing field for those who do not experience equity in the courts and other systems

While recognizing that Holistic Defense is practiced along a spectrum, the following core principles, or pillars, underlie, and form the foundation of any successful Holistic Defense practice:

  1. Seamless access to services that meet clients’ legal and social support needs;
  2. Dynamic, interdisciplinary communication;
  3. Advocates with an interdisciplinary skill set;
  4. A robust understanding of, and connection to, the community served.

The Director of  Social Workers/Social Service Advocacy has the primary responsibility for the leadership, oversight, supervision, and training of Social Service Advocates in YAD’s nine trial offices, as well as the responsibility of developing and supporting the pool of private social worker vendors who are hired on a case-by-case basis by attorneys representing indigent juvenile clients.

Social Service Experts have knowledge of clinical issues regarding trauma, child and adolescent development, substance use disorders, behavioral & mental health issues,  domestic violence, special education and learning disorders.  Social Service Experts can assist private bar advocates at any point in a case including developing community-based plans, alternatives to detention, biopsychosocial assessments, Aid-Sentencing Reports, Educational Advocacy, Identifying and Actively Connecting Clients to needed services and programs,

For assistance in finding a social service expert, please contact Claudia Dunne, Director of Social Services Advocacy,

Each YAD trial office has a Social Worker/ Social Service Advocate (SSA) working in collaboration with YAD’s staff attorneys to provide holistic representation and advocacy to children in all stages of the juvenile justice process. Research has shown that meeting the formative developmental needs of young people is essential to achieving the best possible legal and life outcomes. Therefore, YAD uses a Trauma-Informed, Positive Youth Development Model to provide zealous advocacy for our clients.

As part of the legal team our SSA’s provide assessments, biopsychosocial histories, aid-in-sentencing reports, community-based service plans, educational advocacy, and ongoing clinical case management. They actively connect clients to needed clinical, educational, vocational, and social service supports and opportunities. They promote community-based alternatives to detention and advocate for innovative practices that divert youth from ever entering the juvenile justice system

As  YAD social workers/social service advocates and employees of CPCS we recognize the impact of poverty, racial and ethnic inequities, and all other forms of discrimination and are  committed to advocating for racial, economic, and social justice with all the systems involved in our client’s lives.


  • Integral member of the legal team
  • Advocates for the expressed interests of the youth
  • Understands adolescence & brain development, mental health, trauma, and social and economic determinants of poverty and oppression
  • Uses a Positive Youth Development Model
  • Understands the principles and practices of trauma-informed models
  • Recognizes impact of racial and ethnic disparities
  • Provides bio-psychosocial assessments, aid-in-sentencing reports, and treatment and service recommendations (or Provides written advocacy to
  • Promotes community-based alternatives to detention/confinement
  • Advocates for innovative practices and programming that divert youth from entering the juvenile justice system
  • Provides ongoing needs assessment and clinical case management
  • Actively connects youth to needed services, supports, and opportunities
  • Maintains a supportive relationship throughout the length of the case & beyond
  • Provides ongoing clinical case management
  • Collaborates with attorneys to shape defense strategies
  • Identifies need for additional expert evaluations including competency, criminal responsibility, psychological, neuropsychological, or trauma and other assessments.

Social Service Advocates in YAD Trial Offices: 

Roxbury: Sasha Feliciano                    Quincy:   Nicole Trezise

Worcester: Kelsey Haggett                  Lowell: Raquel Calderon

Fall River: Amanda Pacheco               Salem: Jeff Whiteside

Springfield: Krista Gale                       Springfield: Delano Bailey

Malden: Lydia Jones                            Hyannis: Alyssa Slezak