K434 – Children, Family, and the Law
3 Credit Hours
This inter-disciplinary, special topics course is designed to prepare students to understand and work with the legal system through exploring a range of complex issues involving families and children. Overall the course introduces students to pivotal themes pertinent to both the law and social work. Students are encouraged to discuss ways in which professionals across disciplines can best serve children’s interests and respect families’ rights. Throughout the course, students are expected to explore their understanding of how “family” is defined; how child development and social work knowledge can be applied in making legal decisions about children and families; and how one’s “world view” impacts interventions with children and families. The course also encourages students to explore whether current laws and policies regarding parental autonomy and permanency for children, including children involved in the child welfare system, adequately serve the best interests of children and families across diverse cultural contexts. Through hands-on experience and a visit to the courts, students also address the issue of multidisciplinary decision-making and advocacy processes related to understanding and respecting children’s and families’ rights. One component of the course is a “Summer Institute,” in which a different special topic is explored each year and presentations are given by an interdisciplinary range of experts in the field. Examples of special topics include divorce, differential response in the child welfare system, permanency for children in the child welfare system, and disparities and disproportionality: challenges in the child welfare system.