CAP Courses: 2008-09

In Academic Year 2008-09, CAP is offering the following three courses:

1. Child, Family, and State
2. Child Advocacy Clinic
3. Future of the Family: Adoption, Reproduction and Child Welfare: Seminar

Child, Family, and State

Spring Term, Block C
T, W 10:25 AM - 11:55 AM

Professor Elizabeth Bartholet
3 classroom credits LAW-32000A

This course will focus on children's rights and interests in the context of family, education, and child welfare, and consider how our society shapes the meaning of childhood. We will look at what role the government does and does not play in supporting families so that they can provide children with appropriate nurture, and assess the potential of programs designed to provide special support to fragile families, such as early home visitation and family preservation. We will look at how law divides responsibility for children between parents and the state, and consider how the balance should be drawn. We will look at law and policy governing parent rights, child abuse and neglect, foster care, adoption (domestic and international), education, and juvenile justice. Throughout we will think about how we could change law and policy to create a better world for children and families.

This course is part of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP), whose other courses are: The Art of Social Change: Child Welfare, Education, & Juvenile Justice (which is not being offered in 2008-09), the Child Advocacy Clinic, and the Future of the Family seminar. Students participating in this Child, Family, and State course will get a preference for admission to the Winter-Spring and Spring versions of the Child Advocacy Clinic and related fieldwork placements, and to the Future of the Family seminar. Enrollment in all the CAP courses is encouraged but not required.

There will be a take-home examination for this course.

Cross-registrants are welcome.

Child Advocacy Clinic

Spring term, Block L
W 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Ms. Jessica Budnitz
2 classroom credits LAW-32080A Spring
3 or 4 required clinical credits LAW-32080C Spring
2 optional clinical credits Winter

The CAP clinic is designed to educate students about a range of social change strategies and to encourage critical thinking about the pros and cons of different approaches. The course includes both a classroom and fieldwork component. A variety of substantive areas impacting the lives of children will be addressed, with a focus on child welfare (abuse and neglect, foster care, and adoption), education, and juvenile justice. The course is relevant for students with a particular interest in children's issues but also for those more generally interested in law reform and social change.

Enrollment Options: Students have two options, which correspond to different course listings: Child Advocacy Clinic (Spring only) or Child Advocacy Clinic (Winter/Spring). All students will be required to take 2 Spring classroom credits. Additionally, all students will engage in part-time clinical work during the Spring term, registering for 3 or 4 Spring clinical credits (which roughly translates to 15 or 20 hours of work each week). Winter/Spring students will engage in full-time clinical work during the Winter term, in addition to their part-time Spring clinical work.

Enrollment Procedures: Enrollment will occur during clinical registration. Please refer to the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs ( for clinical course registration dates and add/drop deadlines. Please note that the Child Advocacy Clinic has EARLIER drop/add deadlines than other clinicals. Once enrolled in the clinic, students will be provided a description of the various fieldwork options, and students will be placed to the degree possible in accord with their preferences. Visit the Child Advocacy Program (CAP) website ( for a list of CAP clinical placements offered in past years.

Fieldwork Component: Students will be placed in a wide array of fieldwork settings, ranging from organizations providing individual advocacy, to those promoting systemic change through impact litigation and legislative reform, to grassroots organizing initiatives. Some students will work for reform from within the system and others from outside. Students will work on different types of projects such as: developing legislative reform proposals, participating in mediations, doing in-court advocacy work, drafting legal briefs, analyzing social science and psychological research, leveraging the media and writing op-ed articles, investigating new policy initiatives. For instance:

  • In the child welfare area, students may work at the state agency charged with protecting children from abuse and neglect, with private lawyers representing children in the foster care system, with a model early home visitation program focused on supporting fragile families, or with the district attorney's office prosecuting parents accused of child maltreatment.
  • In the education area, students may work with a program that weds social science with the promotion of policy reform, with a project advocating for the special needs of children exposed to violence, or with the state agency charged with overseeing schools on issues such as charter schools, school finance, assessment and accountability, student rights, and school discipline.
  • In the juvenile justice area, students may work on legislative and policy initiatives aimed at improving the justice system for youth of color, on a new initiative providing alternatives to detention, or with a model juvenile defender organization.
  • Many placements cut across substantive areas. Students may work as a law clerk in the juvenile court, with a state legislative committee focused on child welfare and education, or with a medical-legal collaborative aimed at improving child well-being.

Winter Term Fieldwork Option: The Winter Term opens up the possibility of placement with model organizations throughout the U.S. and even internationally. Most Winter-Spring students will be placed in a distant placement for the Winter Term, and then return to continue their fieldwork in the form of a research and writing project in the Spring. A small number of Winter-Spring students will be placed locally, working full-time in the Winter and then part-time at the same organization in the Spring.

Classroom Component: During the Spring term, students will bring their varied fieldwork experiences into the classroom so that all can learn from the rich combination of clinical experiences and debate the value of different approaches. Each student will give one presentation during the term - often in combination with the fieldwork supervisor - describing his/her clinical work, his/her organization, and how his/her project fits within the organization's larger child advocacy agenda.

Course Requirements: Regular attendance and active participation in discussion is required. Grading will be based on a combination of each student's presentation and related packet, contributions to class discussion throughout the term, and clinical fieldwork.

Relationship to Other Child Advocacy Program Courses: This course is part of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP). Other CAP courses being offered in 2008-09 include: (1) Child, Family, and State; and (2) Future of the Family: Adoption, Reproduction and Child Welfare seminar. Enrollment in these other CAP courses is encouraged. While there is no prerequisite for the Child Advocacy Clinic, in the event that it is overenrolled, preference will be given to students who have taken or are currently registered for other CAP courses.

Future of the Family: Adoption, Reproduction and Child Welfare: Seminar

Spring Term, Block H
M 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Professor Elizabeth Bartholet
2 classroom credits LAW-93971A

This seminar is for students interested in writing a research paper on any issue related to the above range of topics, as well as for students interested in doing papers on ideas explored in connection with any Child Advocacy Program (CAP) course (Child, Family & State, The Art of Social Change, CAP Clinic). Initial class sessions will focus on research and writing issues, and later sessions will focus on student work. Students will receive extensive guidance and feedback on their writing.

Students are encouraged to meet with the Professor prior to the start of the Spring term to discuss potential paper topics. Possible issue areas include but are not limited to: parenting and procreation; child abuse and neglect; family preservation policy; high-tech infertility treatment; the commercialization of reproduction (sale of eggs, sperm, embryos and pregnancy services); non-traditional family forms (single parenting, gay/lesbian parenting, same-sex unions and marriage, transracial and international adoption); and fetal abuse, sex selection, cloning, stem cell research and the new eugenics options.
Requirements include: regular attendance, active participation, presentation of own work, feedback on others' work, and a research paper. Students are encouraged to write a substantial paper for an additional credit; this can be used to satisfy the School's Written Work Requirement.

This seminar is part of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP), whose other courses are: Child, Family, and State, the Art of Social Change (which is not being offered in 2008-09), and the Child Advocacy Clinic. Students participating in this seminar will get a preference for admission to the Winter-Spring and Spring versions of the Child Advocacy Clinic and related fieldwork placements. Enrollment in all CAP courses is encouraged but not required. This seminar is by permission of the instuctor. Please contact Professor Bartholet at if you interested in enrolling.

Last modified: July 13, 2009

© 2015 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.