Prof. Elizabeth Cooper
Associate Professor of Law,
Faculty Director, Feerick Center for Social Justice &
Prof. Gaylynn Burroughs
Clinical Visiting Assistant Professor of Law
THE FEERICK CENTER FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE operates a non-litigation, problem-solving clinic that seeks to use innovative dispute resolution models to help disenfranchised individuals and communities create social change. As part of this goal, the Clinic uses innovative methods to address structural problems that do not readily lend themselves to conventional legal solutions.
The Clinic is currently working with multiple stakeholders in the New York City child welfare system to develop ways to better engage and empower families involved with the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) and its contract agencies.
There are nearly 13,000 New York City children in foster care. Most of these children are from poor communities of color, and every year ACS investigates thousands of additional reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. Families struggling to cope with urban poverty are particularly vulnerable to involvement in the child welfare system, yet these families also bring strengths and expertise on how best to keep their families stable and safe. Acknowledging the need to partner with parents to create better outcomes for children, the Clinic has facilitated conversations among ACS, advocates, and service providers to construct ways of incorporating parent feedback into current policies and programs.
Students play an integral role in Clinic activities. Students have engaged in legal and policy research, conducted fact-finding interviews, led focus groups, and designed and facilitated processes for stakeholders to identify and build consensus around creative solutions.