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Winter-Spring 2021 Clinic

Child Advocacy Clinic: Child Welfare, Education & Juvenile Justice

Enrollment in this clinic will fulfill the HLS JD pro bono requirement.

Required Class Component: Child Advocacy: Child Welfare, Education & Juvenile Justice Clinical Seminar (2 spring classroom credits). Students who enroll in this clinic will be enrolled in the required course by the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.

Additional Co-/Pre-Requisites: None.

By Permission: No.

Add/Drop Deadline: October 30, 2020.

LLM Students: International students on F-1 student visas are required to have Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization; LL.M. students are not eligible for CPT.

Multi-Semester: This is a winter-spring clinic (2 winter clinical credits + 4-5 spring clinical credits).

Placement Site: Various externship placements. Visit the CAP website to see a list of recent placement sites.

Child Advocacy Clinic: Child Welfare, Education & Juvenile Justice is designed to educate students about a range of social change strategies and to encourage critical thinking about the pros and cons of different approaches. The Clinic includes both a classroom seminar and clinical fieldwork component. A variety of substantive areas impacting the lives of children are addressed with a focus on child welfare (abuse and neglect, foster care, and adoption), education, and juvenile justice. The Clinic is relevant for students not only with a particular interest in children’s issues, but also for those more generally interested in social change.

Enrollment Options: The Child Advocacy Clinic offers two different clinical fieldwork options: a spring-only clinic and a winter-spring clinic. This offering is for the winter-spring Child Advocacy Clinic. During the winter term, students engage in full-time work at sites that could be located either in the Boston area, or in another state. During the spring term, students engage in part-time work (16-20 hours/week for 4-5 clinical credits) at the same site. (If the site is out-of-state, the student will work remotely, from Cambridge during the spring.)  The available placements will be determined by CAP, in close consultation with the needs and interests of the student.  Students will have the opportunity to convey their location preferences and will only be placed out-of-state by agreement.  Enrollment is capped at 8 students.  

This course is open only to students who have not taken the Child Advocacy Clinic: System-Involved Youth (held in the fall semester). 

Fieldwork Component:   Students are placed in a wide array of fieldwork settings, ranging from organizations providing individual advocacy, to those promoting systemic change through impact litigation and legislative reform, to grassroots organizing initiatives, to social enterprises. Some students will work for reform from within the system and others from outside.

Based on their particular placements, students may: engage in research and writing in support of impact litigation, engage in courtroom advocacy; participate in school and home visits; assist with interviews of child victims; analyze social science and psychological research; leverage the media and write op-ed articles; prepare for city council or legislative hearings; provide trainings to youth, parents, teachers, attorneys, and police officers; develop legislative reform proposals; participate in mediations; and provide strategic advice to start-ups. For instance:

  • In the child welfare area, students may represent individual children who are abused and neglected; serve alongside District Attorneys prosecuting caretakers accused of child maltreatment; or work with juvenile court judges adjudicating care and protection and other child welfare cases.
  • In the education area, students may engage in efforts to advance educational outcomes for low-income students; participate in special education cases; or work with the state agency charged with overseeing schools on issues such as charter schools, assessment and accountability, student rights, and school discipline.
  • In the juvenile justice area, students may support legislative changes to improve conditions of confinement for juveniles; promote policies to reform the justice system for youth of color; or work alongside juvenile defenders in delinquency and youthful offender cases. 

Note that many placements cut across substantive areas and engage students in a host of advocacy strategies and skills.  

Matching Process: Once enrolled in the Clinic, the Child Advocacy Program (CAP) will provide students with a list of fieldwork placement organizations and their potential projects. Students will give CAP information about their background and interests and rank their placement preferences. CAP will then match students with a placement based on their preferences, the organizations’ needs, and CAP’s mission to provide students with a broad spectrum of experiences. Please note that the matching process takes place during the fall semester; enrolled students will need to be available to communicate with CAP and their host organization about various details.  Visit the Child Advocacy Clinic webpage for a list of organizations where clinic students have been placed in prior years.

This course is part of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP), whose other courses are: Child Advocacy Clinic: System-Involved Youth (fall semester); Art of Social Change: Child Welfare, Education & Juvenile Justice; Child, Family, and State (alternating years); Family Law (alternating years); and the Future of the Family seminar. Enrollment in all CAP courses is encouraged but not required.