The Child Advocacy Clinic (CAC) has a twofold mission of (1) serving the needs of children and families who are at risk and living in poverty in Newark and the surrounding areas, and (2) educating law students to be thoughtful and highly skilled practitioners. Students in the CAC engage in a variety of activities including direct advocacy, community education and outreach, and policy and program development. In addition, where beneficial to meet the needs of the children and families with whom the clinic works, the CAC collaborates with students and faculty from the other clinical programs at Rutgers School of Law–Newark as well as the other professional schools at Rutgers University and many professionals in the community.
Each semester, the CAC enrolls eight to 10 second or third-year law students who work approximately 18 hours per week. Students primarily provide individual representation to children and/or families in court hearings and trials, in administrative hearings, and in mediation conferences. In addition, students participate in numerous community education and outreach efforts. The advocacy in which the CAC is involved includes obtaining or maintaining Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for children (federal public assistance for persons with disabilities), securing needed therapeutic and medical interventions for children, and assisting kinship caregivers in meeting the legal financial, and educational needs of the children in their care. In addition, the CAC is the law guardian (attorney) for several abused and neglected children who are residing in foster care, many of whom are children with disabilities.