Clinical Programme and Specialist Clinics

Child Advocacy Clinic


Introduction:

This innovative Clinic introduces students to Child Advocacy, a developing field within the Caribbean.  Many Caribbean territories are passing legislation and attempting to implement comprehensive legal and social service systems to protect children from abuse, neglect and other forms of maltreatment.  In addition, consistent with the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Caribbean territories are re-examining the way children’s issues are addressed in existing legal systems, such as family, criminal, adoption and wardship proceedings.  These movements seek to, not only elevate the focus on protecting children’s interests, but to recognize that children have an independent role to play in the proceedings that impact their lives.

Within this context, the goals of the Clinic are for students to:

    • Understand the legal and social framework for children’s issues;
    • Explore the existing and potential role of a child advocate;
    • Gain hands on experience in a matter involving children, focusing primarily on the child’s interests and perspective;
    • Develop analytical and communication skills on a policy project related to the development of a child protection system.

Weekly classes in this 12-week clinic examine children’s issues, both from the perspective of how children should be represented in individual cases and from a policy perspective of how should an ideal system protect children.  Topics in class include the social context of parenting, childhood, and abuse in the West Indies; the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; child protection legislation; children’s issues in a family law context; children’s issues in an abuse and neglect context; interviewing child clients; ethical responsibilities of attorneys for children.

Initially, students in the Clinic will present parents in custody matters, learning skills such as how to interview clients and draft affidavits, while critically examining the child’s perspective and best interests.  As local child protection systems are implemented, the goal is that the Clinic will be appointed as child advocates in matters authorized under new legislation.  In addition, students collaborate with a Government or NGO on a research or policy project focused on child protection.

This Clinic is coordinated by Mrs. Zenobia Campbell-James, Attorney-at-Law.

 Requirements:

  • Approximately 10-12 students
  • A commitment to 3-hour weekly sessions for at least 12 weeks;
  • Prompt attendance at all sessions.