Children’s Law and Policy Concentration Courses
LAW 665 Introduction to the Study of Law and Legal Systems (2 credits): This foundational course introduces students to the sources and functions of law in our society. The course begins with an explanation of the structure and traditions of the American court system. Students then learn to read and analyze cases and statutes and develop basic legal written and oral presentation skills. The course uses child and family law cases and problems and provides students with the background they will need for future children’s law and policy studies.
LAW 667 Introduction to Children’s Law, Policy, and Practice. (2 credits): This course is designed to give students an introductory overview of the law as it affects children. It begins with a discussion of the constitutional relationship among children, parents, and the state, as well as the respective roles of the federal and state governments in the regulation of children and families. The course then introduces students to the principal areas of civil and criminal law that affect children and families.
LAW 670 Child Welfare Law and Policy (2 credits): This course focuses on federal and state legal and policy efforts to protect children from abuse, neglect, and other forms of maltreatment. Topics include mandatory reporting laws, liability issues, and the general structure and content of child protection laws, including permanency planning and termination of parental rights. Students will explore the concept of the best interest of the child in a legal context and review laws and research aimed at promoting children’s welfare.
LAW 663 Children’s Summer Institute (2 credits): This intensive, week-long seminar provides a wide-ranging interdisciplinary exploration of critical issues affecting children. A diverse team of faculty offers interdisciplinary perspectives on the meaning of “best interests of the child” particularly as it relates to balancing legislative mandates and “best interests.” Experts from history, political science, psychology, social work, law, education, and medicine present information, participate in discussion with the attendees, and debate the issues from the perspectives of their own professions. Faculty provide both a theoretical framework for examining the issues, as well as practical experiential learning. Various education methods are employed including case studies, lectures, outside speakers, field trips, role-playing exercises, group projects, and hands-on learning activities. Using issues related to the “School-to-Prison” pipeline as a lens, students will engage in an interdisciplinary examination of the “best interest of the child,” particularly as it relates to creating programs and policies that address the widespread undereducation and over-incarceration of large populations of youth. Students will examine a series of complex issues as they consider the problem of the pipeline, including the theory behind it, the responsibilities of family, the role of implicit bias, how current laws and policies contribute to the pipeline, how trauma-informed practices can inform our laws and policies, and what reforms might be put into place to better serve youth.