Thursday, January 31, 2008

Child Advocacy at the UW

This afternoon Associate Dean Lisa Kelly was installed as the Bobbe and Jon Bridge Professor in Child Advocacy.

Prof. Kelly's lecture, "Telling Children’s Stories: Legal Advocacy for Children and Youth," described the work of the Children and Youth Advocacy Clinic, which she directs. Most of the clinic's clients are kids between 12 and 18 who are in the foster care system. She talked about the difference that having an advocate can make in these children's lives. It was an interesting and moving talk.

Meanwhile, yesterday's P-I applauded a pilot program that the Clinic hopes to manage.

A promising bill from Rep. Pat Lantz would create an experiment giving all children an attorney when they face dependency hearings that determine whether they are placed in foster care, under what conditions their parents can keep them or have them back home and the like. The two-county pilot project envisioned by HB3048 is an excellent opportunity to see if legal representation makes a significant difference for kids, as we suspect it will.

The pilot project, administered through the University of Washington School of Law's Children and Youth Advocacy Clinic, would offer every child 12 and older the help of a trained attorney for dependency cases. The project would measure results such as whether there is more attention from a caseworker, more visits with siblings and separated parents, and better educational progress.
Foster Care: Worthy legal pilot, Seattle P-I, Jan. 30, 2008. The first person to comment on the editorial said: "In my almost 50 years of professional Social Work (including work with and within children's programs) this is the best idea I have heard."

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