April 13, 2017

Lawyers, judges, nonprofit leaders to discuss child welfare developments at ABA conferences

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2017 — Lawyers, judges, social workers and advocates will explore developments in the children’s law field during four conferences sponsored by the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law the week of April 24. Among the topics covered will be immigration, psychotropic medications, the Indian Child Welfare Act, child sex trafficking, a national legislative agenda and shaken baby syndrome.

Preconference on the Indian Child Welfare Act, April 24
5th National Parent Attorney Conference: Valuing Dignity
and Respect for all Families
, April 25-26

Preconference on Immigration and Child Welfare, April 26
17th ABA National Conference on Children and the Law: Advancing Access to Justice for

Children and Families, April 27-28

Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner
1700 Tysons Blvd.
Tysons Corner, Va. 22102

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget Mary McCormack will give a luncheon address on “Seeking Justice from the Bench” on April 26 at 12:15 p.m.

Margaret A. Burt, a veteran child welfare attorney from Rochester, N.Y., will receive the Mark Hardin Award on April 27 at 9 a.m. In her more than 35 years of practice, Burt has consulted and trained lawyers, judges, caseworkers and service providers across the country in the areas of child abuse and neglect, permanency for foster children, the termination of parental rights and adoptions.  After receiving the award, she will give plenary remarks at the National ABA Conference on Children and the Law about her decision to work in child welfare law and her experiences in court, in the field and in her travels over the years.

ABA President Elect Hilarie Bass will introduce Lexie Perez Gruber, an additional plenary speaker. Perez Gruber serves as a policy associate at the American Public Human Services Association. Her current work to pursue excellence in child welfare and child care is informed by her own experience as a young person in foster care. Her personal and professional accomplishments are the subject of the upcoming documentary, Lost in America, executive produced by Russell Simmons.

On April 28 at 12:30 p.m., Michael Harris and Alexandra Santa Ana of the National Center for Youth Law will speaking on countering the impact of implicit bias on youth of color.

Conference highlights include:

“Implications of the 2016 Indian Child Welfare Act for Parents’ Attorneys” — This session will provide an overview of federal ICWA Regulations and Guidelines and recent case law.  Panelists, including Margaret Burt, will discuss why the act was passed and how recent history may still affect interactions with clients.

Tuesday, 11:15 a.m-12:45 p.m.

“Identifying Defenses and Working with Experts in Shaken Baby Syndrome and Abusive Head Trauma Cases” – This program will discuss defenses and false testimony when representing parents accused of abusive head trauma to young children and babies. Panelists will take different factual scenarios common to such cases and discuss how to identify possible defenses for trial. Also included will be practical information on how to identify and work with experts.

Tuesday, 3:30-5 p.m.

 “Intersection of Immigration and Child Welfare Law” A half-day preconference will include three panels of immigration and child welfare lawyers joining forces to talk about how they can best represent families with overlapping legal issues in these two fields. Case examples will highlight topics, including: parties’ rights to representation in each type of case; a parent’s right to return to the U.S. after deportation; differences between ICE, CBP, USCIS and immigration court roles and interactions with children and families; language interpretation and translation resources; and treatment of citizen vs. noncitizen children, parents and kin in child welfare cases.

Wednesday, 1-5 p.m.

“Lawyers Using Data and Research for Advocacy” — Lawyers working in child welfare are data-driven not only because of funding requirements, which typically require data collection and analysis, but also to support research efforts to better understand how advocacy can promote better outcomes for children and families. Panelists will share strategies for how child welfare professionals can be better consumers of data and research.

Thursday, 3:45-5:15 p.m.

“Legal Options for Immigrant Caregivers” — Challenges that nonparent caregivers face –such as whether they can serve as approved foster care placements, how they can enroll the child in school or seek medical care outside the child welfare system, if custody or guardianship is a realistic option – are amplified when the caregiver is not a U.S. citizen. Panelists will discuss legal caregiving options for immigrants, including state citizenship requirements for foster parent certification; options for sponsors reuniting with unaccompanied immigrant children; the differences between custody, guardianship and power of attorney; and what form of caregiving may provide the most stable setting for child or adult clients.

Friday, 8:45-10:15 a.m.

“Use of Psychotropic Medication among Foster Youth: Research Informing Policy and Practice” — Panelists will address the use of psychotropic medication, which is prescribed at a much higher rate for children in foster care than for the general population. Panelists will use Pennsylvania as a case study of research informing policy and practice, present case examples and discuss best practices for monitoring the use of psychotropic medication for children in foster care and how promote safe and effective prescribing methods.

Friday, 8:45-10:15 a.m.

“Understanding the Every Student Succeeds Act, Trauma and the Importance of School Stability for Students in Foster Care” — Significant disparities exist between the educational outcomes of youth in foster care and their non-foster peers. A panel of experts will provide an overview of how trauma impacts learning, emphasize the importance of educational advocacy and highlight innovative practices.

Friday, 1:45-3:15 p.m.

“Creating a National Policy Agenda – Protecting the Safety Net for Children and Families, and Looking to the Future” — A panel of experts from the ABA Center on Children and the Law, the Children’s Defense Fund and the Children’s Advocacy Institute will discuss the new congressional session and new administration and what opportunities exist to move forward on policies or programs for children and which existing systems need protection, and how advocates approaching children’s issues from multiple perspectives can coordinate efforts and develop consistent messaging.

Friday, 1:45-3:15 p.m.

“Protective Responses to Domestic Child Sex Trafficking” — Experts will offer statutory, policy and practice-based approaches to improving the response to child victims of sex trafficking. Christine Raino of Shared Hope International will describe the organization’s JuST (Juvenile Sex Trafficking) Response, which seeks to protect trafficking victims through a safe and trauma-informed approach, as well as other promising practices. Preston Findlay of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children will discuss resources and strategies to assist in cases involving endangered runaways and child sex trafficking victims.

Friday, 3:30-5 p.m.

The complete agendas for the conferences and an updated list of speakers can be found here.

This event is free and open to members of the press. For media credentialing, please contact Priscilla Totten at Priscilla.Totten@americanbar.org.

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