Barton Child Law and Policy Center Newsletter
Dear Child Advocates, this update contains:
Juvenile Code Hearing Cancelled
Welcome New Barton Center Director, Melissa Carter!
Upcoming Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy Trainings
Student Perspective: Barton's Juvenile Defender Clinic
Hearing on the Child Protection and Public Safety Act Cancelled

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Child Protection and Public Safety Act ("the Act") that was scheduled for December 7 has been cancelled due to scheduling conflicts. 

The Act, which was initially introduced in 2009 as SB 292, would completely revise the Georgia Code's juvenile court provisions, which govern how our state responds to children and their families in cases of abuse, neglect, violations of criminal law by children, and other circumstances requiring court intervention.  The Act aims to reorganize the O.C.G.A. Title 15, Chapter 11 for ease of understanding and application, to modernize substantive provisions to reflect advances in research and practice, and to bring Georgia into full compliance with federal laws applicable to juvenile court proceedings. The Act's lead sponsor is Senator Bill Hamrick (R-Carrolton). 

We expect the next hearing to be scheduled for the opening weeks of the 2011 Georgia General Assembly Session.   






Welcome New Barton Center Director, Melissa Carter!


The Barton Center is thrilled to welcome our new Director, Melissa Carter, who joined us on December 1, 2010.  Melissa steps into the post previously held by our founding Director, Karen Worthington.  She brings with her a wide range of experiences and contacts from her work in the Office of the Child Advocate, the Court Improvement Projects of Georgia and Illinois, private law practice, and her time as a child protection worker prior to law school.  Melissa is also a former Barton Center post-graduate fellow and was a participant in our Emory Summer Child Advocacy Program.  We are delighted and honored to have her back at Emory in this important role
Upcoming Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy Trainings
A Trauma Informed Approach to Children in State Custody. 
 Our next Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy is scheduled for Thursday December 9, 2010 from 1:10 p.m. until 3:15 p.m. in room 575 of Gambrell Hall at Emory University School of Law.  Visiting Scholar in Dr.  Brent Wilson, Clinical Assistant Professor at Emory School of Medicine, will discuss A Trauma Informed Approach to Children in State Custody.  Children in state custody often display concerning behaviors, sometimes intolerable behaviors.  Some of these children do not trust relationships, have over-activated nervous systems and have not learned emotion-regulation skills.  Many have experienced trauma or toxic levels of stress during their short lives.  In this program, we will hear from an empowerment advocate about his experience in state custody and the advocate's counselor as well as Dr. Wilson, who works with this population of children.  Risks for medication will be discussed as as well approaches to helping these children manage their emotions better. Come learn how to be advocate for the children you serve and bring your questions.  The speakers anticipate an interactive session with the audience.  


This session is currently fully subscribed.  For those who are not able to attend in person, it, like all other Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy sessions, will be posted online.


Square-Peg Teens in Round-Hole Families & Facilities: Let's Stop The Insanity 


The January 11th GA Child Welfare Legal Academy features a presentation by Pat O'Brien, the Founder & Executive Director of You Gotta Believe! The Older Child Adoption & Permanency Movement, Inc.  You Gotta Believe is one of the few placement agencies in the country that limits its practice to finding permanent parents who will legally or morally adopt teens, pre-teens, or young adults in foster care without regard to whether the youth is freed for adoption or not.   Mr. O'Brien's presentation is entitled Square-Peg Teens in Round-Hole Families & Facilities: Let's Stop The Insanity. Square-Peg Teens are Teens who need permanent parents before they leave foster care.  Round-Hole Families & Facilities (i.e. traditionally prepared foster "parents", therapeutic foster "parents", residential treatment centers, group homes) are programs that house kids temporarily and provide temporary care at best.  Albert Einstein was quoted defining Insanity as "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."   This session will make the case that we practice institutional insanity every time we place a square-peg teen in a short-term temporary round-hole family or facility and expect any result other than homelessness upon the teen's discharge from the foster care system.  The session will make the case that we must stop the practice of placing square-pegs in round-holes and recruit permanent square-peg parents for every square-peg teen due to be discharged from the foster care system to no one but him or her self.   


Registration will open soon.  Stay tuned!

Student Perspective: Barton's Juvenile Defender Clinic

by Lindsay Samuel, Emory 3L 

My second client in the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic, DJ, was accused of committing a battery in his high school following a fight in the cafeteria with another student. DJ was arrested at school and later detained in the Regional Youth Detention Center. Ultimately, DJ admitted to his committing the battery in juvenile court and received probation.


However, the brunt my work with DJ came after his juvenile court proceedings were complete. Since JDC provides holistic representation by representing our clients not only in juvenile court proceedings but also in school matters as well, our next task was to help DJ transition back into school after his stint in the detention center and his school suspension. Unfortunately, the principal in DJ's school made it abundantly clear that he would do anything it took to prevent DJ from returning to school. The principal refused to send us DJ's school records, ignored our phone calls, and withdrew DJ from school without any hearing or parental notification. By the time we finally managed to schedule a hearing with the School Evidentiary Hearing Committee, DJ had missed a total of twenty-three school days, a full calendar month.


In preparation for our hearing, we decided that DJ's best course of action would be to move to dismiss the charges based the fact that DJ was supposed to have a hearing upon suspension for anything beyond ten school days. At the hearing, I had the opportunity to present and argue the motion before the hearing committee. The committee adjourned for several minutes to consider our motion. When we reconvened, the committee announced that we had won our motion and that they were dismissing all charges against DJ and that he was permitted to return to school.


 DJ is a client I will never forget because his case took my clinic experience outside of the classroom and the courtroom, and truly into his life. At our first meeting, DJ told me that he loved his high school business law class and that he wants to go to college and be an entrepreneur. Without our work, DJ (for various reasons) would have had to enroll in a GED program. While I know that DJ could succeed at earning his GED, DJ's goal is to earn his high school diploma and attend college and I know that he can, given the opportunity. I am so proud and thankful that I could be a part of his opportunity and now I am  his biggest fan - rooting for him to succeed and overcome, despite his record and despite those like his principal who are waiting for him to fail.

Quick Links...
Learn more about our work at the Barton Child Law and Policy Website.

Learn more about our educational opportunites for law students and other graduate students at the Barton Center at Emory Law Website.

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