CAP Courses: 2011-12

In Academic Year 2011-12, CAP is offering the following four courses:

  1. Art of Social Change: Child Welfare, Education, and Juvenile Justice (Fall)
  2. Child, Family, and State (Spring)
  3. Child Advocacy Clinic (Winter/Spring OR Spring)
  4. Future of the Family: Adoption, Reproduction, and Child Welfare: Seminar (Spring)

Art of Social Change: Child Welfare, Education and Juvenile Justice

Fall term, Block K
Th 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Austin West classroom in Austin Hall

Professor Elizabeth Bartholet and Ms. Jessica Budnitz
2 classroom credits LAW-30691A

This course deals with strategies for changing law and policy, focusing on the areas of child welfare (abuse and neglect, foster care, adoption), education, and juvenile justice. We will bring into the classroom as visiting lecturers leaders from the worlds of policy, practice, and academia -- people who have themselves operated as successful change agents, and who represent different disciplines, career paths, and strategies for change. We will explore some of the most significant reform initiatives in our targeted areas, and debate with the speakers and each other how best to advance children's interests. Receptions will follow the class meetings, enabling students to talk informally with the visiting speakers, as well as with the HLS Faculty and those from the Boston-area child advocacy community who form a regular part of our audience. Each student will have the opportunity to attend one of the dinners involving the visiting speakers, the faculty, and interested others, that will take place after the reception. See for a schedule of the speakers and topics for last year's course.

Course requirements consist of brief questions/reactions related to the readings and class presentations, turned in weekly.

This course is part of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP), whose other courses are: Child, Family, and State, the Child Advocacy Clinic, and the Future of the Family seminar. Students participating in this Art of Social Change 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 CAP courses is encouraged but not required.

Cross-registrants are welcome.  Click here for Information for Cross-Registrants.


Child, Family, and State

Spring term, Block G
T,W 3:20 PM - 4:50 PM

Professor Elizabeth Bartholet
3 classroom credits LAW-32000A

This course will focus on children's rights and interests in the context of family and child welfare. We will consider how our society shapes the meaning of childhood, and what role the government does and should play in supporting families so that they can provide children with appropriate nurture. We will 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, 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 J
W 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Ms. Jessica Budnitz
2 classroom credits LAW-32080A
3-6 required clinical credits LAW-32080C
(3-4 required Spring clinical credits, 2 optional Winter clinical credits)

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 a 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 for the Child Advocacy Clinic: Spring only or 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. 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 an 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.

Early add/drop deadline: This clinical course has early add/drop deadlines of November 4 for winter-spring clinical; December 2 for spring-only clinical.

Enrollment is capped at 24 students (8 Winter-Spring clinic spots, 16 Spring only spots). There are no pre-requisites.


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 readings related to general substantive area and also research and writing issues, and later sessions will focus on student work. Students will receive extensive guidance and feedback on their writing.

Students must attend scheduled meetings 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, 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.

Students must make add/drop decision by no later than Friday Jan 20, 10 am. Students wanting to add/drop after this deadline can do so only with permission of the Professor. Students failing to attend mandatory pre-term meetings to discuss paper topic will be dropped from the seminar.

Permission required for 1Ls and cross-registrants. No permission required for other students.

Last modified: June 30, 2015

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