An Inside Peek: Center on Children and the Law Summer Conferences
ABA Child Law Practice
Vol 32 No 5
It’s just around the corner. This July, the ABA Center on Children and the Law will host two conferences in Washington, DC for child law practitioners. The 3rd National Parent Attorneys Conference will be held July 10-11, and the 15th ABA National Conference on Children and the Law will be held July 12-13. Two optional Preconferences -- one on trial skills for child welfare attorneys, and one on children and trauma—will also be held July 11. Here’s an inside look at what the conferences have to offer.
Timely Themes - Family Well-being is this year’s theme for the Children and the Law Conference. While family well-being has long been a core issue in child welfare, it is receiving new attention at the federal level. Conference sessions will weave in well-being issues and their importance in decisions for children and families. Some examples are sessions on education for children in foster care, advocacy for immigrant children in the child welfare system, and addressing the health needs of children in care.
Improving Representation is the theme for the Parent Attorney Conference. In child welfare legal circles, parent attorney representation quality has lagged behind children’s and agency representation. Conference sessions will stress the skills and knowledge parent attorneys need to take their representation to the next level. Sessions on working with substance abusing clients, improving appellate practice, negotiating the housing system and examining experts are sure to give parent attorneys solid skills geared specifically to them.
Practitioner-Friendly Format - Conference sessions will feature a variety of formats to appeal to different learning styles and promote interaction. You’ll hear from experts, but also get the chance to share and interact, providing for a richer more meaningful experience. No law school lectures!
Skill-building Preconferences – The Center’s Trial Skills for Child Welfare Attorneys is back this year by popular demand. This one-day training combines lecture and on-your-feet exercises to apply what you’ve learned in a mock court room setting. You’ll never have so much fun learning, and you’ll leave with take-home skills that will improve your advocacy.
New this year is a preconference on Children and Trauma, a critical issue for practitioners working with children in the child welfare system. This information-packed session will share the latest research on children who experience trauma (often many forms) and how to best identify and advocate for them.
In-DC Location—The Woodley Park neighborhood in northwest DC will host both conferences. Conference attendees are in for a treat, with many fine restaurants within walking distance, as well as the famed (and free) National Zoo, beautiful Rock Creek Park, and a metro stop that will transport you to all the great sites throughout DC (no car needed). Of course, that’s if you can leave the Omni Shoreham Hotel – a four diamond luxury hotel.
Kevin Ryan, President, Covenant House International, will kick off the Children and Law Conference. Joining him will be Tina Kelley, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Together they have written Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope, an inspiring book highlighting coming-of-age stories of six extraordinary children, now young adults from across North America. Despite almost unimaginable suffering and adversity, these six exceeded almost everyone’s expectations as they fought to move from homelessness after aging out of foster care. All attendees get a free copy of the book!
At the Parent Attorney Conference, plenaries with Marty Guggenheim from New York University (inspiration behind the parent attorney movement) and Judge William Thorne (best practices for representing Native American and all families) will be a big draw. Many workshops will focus on improving practice including those on expert witnesses, drug testing, applying constitutional law, immigration and applying best practices for solo practitioners.