Children’s Rights played a leading role at the 39th National Child Welfare, Juvenile and Family Law Conference in Philadelphia this past weekend.
A trio of CR attorneys were among the faculty to present at the three-day training event, hosted by the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC). Executive Director Sandy Santana and Senior Staff Attorneys Julia Davis and Christina Wilson Remlin each helped facilitate discussions on critical issues pertaining to CR’s work – like reducing the number of kids unnecessarily institutionalized in foster care, improving conditions for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in care and ending solitary confinement for young people.
“Children’s Rights has tremendous expertise in areas that are at the forefront of improving the way our country cares for our most vulnerable children,” said Santana, who presented on kids and institutions. “It was gratifying to share our knowledge and passion with lawyers in the field and explain how critical issues that individual kids face can be looked at from a systemic point of view.”
The conference brought together hundreds of professionals in the fields of child welfare, juvenile justice and family law – people like attorneys, judges, academics and social workers. It was billed by the NACC as a chance to “come together with your fellow advocates to network and receive the most progressive resources available.”
“For Children’s Rights, it was a powerful opportunity to convene with lawyers who are in the trenches every day, serving children,” said Davis. “We have so much respect for these attorneys, and it was enlightening to hear about their work on the ground.” Davis participated on a panel exploring advocacy opportunities to end juvenile solitary confinement, and joined a brainstorming session on litigation strategies to improve services and outcomes for older youth in child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
Remlin presented on the federal Constitutional legal avenues and state and federal grievance procedures that attorneys can access if they represent a LGBTQ young person subjected to state discrimination. For Remlin, the event was a chance to highlight the diversity of CR’s work and to encourage fellow advocates to ensure LGBTQ and gender diverse clients are safe and treated with respect.
“Attorneys on the ground can be catalysts for change,” Remlin said. “They can be informed, affirming, zealous advocates, and participate in systemic reform.”