Child Abuse and Neglect Law Seminar
J.D. Seminar 633
| 3 credit hours
This course will explore the law governing the state response to the abuse and of children by their parents or other caregivers. At any given moment, about 425,000 children live in foster care following state intervention in their families and a judicial finding of abuse or neglect. About 800,000 children will pass through foster care at one time or another each year, and millions of children will be the subject of abuse and neglect reports from mandatory reporters, and investigations by social workers, police officers, and others.
This course will examine the core legal and policy issues raised by child abuse and neglect and the state’s response to it: What law governs the reporting of abuse and neglect? What laws govern its investigation, and state action following its investigation? When can the state intervene in families? Why are children in foster care disproportionately poor and minority?
We will also examine the core issues that arise once the state has filed a child abuse or neglect case in court: What are the rights, if any, of those children’s extended family and siblings? What process governs abuse and neglect cases from a child’s removal until a “permanency” trial? What is the appropriate role of termination of parental rights (TPR) proceedings? What is the best way to minimize the number of children living in state care and maximize the number living with legally permanent families? When a child is in foster care, how should the law allocate decision-making rights for issues like education and mental health care among the state, the parents, and the child?
We will also address legal issues the permeate abuse and neglect systems, such questions of confidentiality of abuse and neglect cases, and the role of federal funding laws in shaping states' abuse and neglect systems.
Throughout the course, we will consider federal and state case law, federal and state statutes and regulations, and public policy concerns. Classroom hypotheticals and assignments will be based on real life issues that are currently in dispute in courts, legislatures and agencies. In addition, students will be asked to consider the lawyering questions raised by classroom materials.
This course is designed for students who have completed or are taking Family Law II: Child, Parent, and State. This course will build off of core constitutional cases discussed in Family Law II through cases such as Meyer v. Nebraska, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, Prince v. Massachusetts, Lehr v. Robinson, Smith v. OFFER, Troxel v. Granville, Stanley v. Illinois, DeShaney v. Winnebago County Social Services, Santosky v Kramer, and Lassiter v. Dep’t of Social Services, and related materials.
Recommended background readings include:
Martin Guggenheim, What’s Wrong With Children’s Rights
Joseph Goldstein, Albert Solnit, Sonja Goldstein & Anna Freud, The Best Interests of the Child (there are three books – Beyond the Best Interests of the Child, Before the Best Interests of the Child, and In the Best Interests of the Child – which can be found condensed into a single volume)
Nina Bernstein, The Lost Children of Wilder
Prerequisite: Family Law II. Family Law II may also be taken concurrently.
This seminar requires a paper. Students must register for the 3 credit section of the seminar if they wish to write a paper fulfilling the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement. The paper requirements of the 2 credit section will not fulfill the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement.
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