Academic Program

As part of the University of San Diego School of Law, CAI's academic program includes courses and clinical training of USD law students in child advocacy.

CAI's academic program consists of two parts. First, the substantive course Child Rights and Remedies, taught in the fall semester, is a survey course which covers a variety of issues of concern to child advocates. Students study principles in dependency and delinquency law, tort issues relevant to children, criminal law, and current constitutional issues affecting children's rights. For information on the course text, click Child Rights and Remedies by Robert C. Fellmeth.

Second, students who have completed or are taking Child Rights and Remedies are eligible to participate in the Child Advocacy Clinic, a unique program that gives law students experience in representing children and/or working on policy issues vital to children's interests. Child Advocacy Clinic offers three different clinical opportunities:

  1. Dependency Clinic. USD Law students are placed with attorneys in the Dependency Legal Group of San Diego, where they assist attorneys in the representation of abused and neglected children or their parents in Dependency Court proceedings. Dependency Clinic students are exposed to a wide variety of experiences, such as interviewing clients and witnesses; presenting evidence during bench trials; preparing briefs and memoranda; participating in settlement conferences; conducting field work with investigators; and making court appearances as necessary and appropriate.
  2. Delinquency/At-Risk YouthClinic. Working under the supervision of attorneys and staff from the San Diego County Public Defender’s Juvenile Unit, interns advocate on behalf of delinquent youth in order to ensure the youth receive the appropriate educational, mental health, physical health, and other services they need while they are under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court. Interns review comprehensive case files of youth to identify areas of need and then advocate on the youth’s behalf with regard to issues such as school discipline, special education services, school placement, mental health assessments and services, and health care needs, in order to protect the youth’s rights with regard to those matters and to address underlying issues that might be contributing to the youth’s delinquency.
  3. Policy Clinic. USD Law students work with CAI professional staff on state and federal legislative or regulatory advocacy, impact litigation, research or public education projects. Past policy projects have included research, analysis, and advocacy on the following issues:
    • states' implementation of CAPTA's public disclosure requirement regarding cases of abuse or neglect resulting in a child's death or near death
    • the need to increase foster family home rates to ensure a better supply of well-qualified foster parents
    • the lack of school nurses and related health care professionals in California schools
    • CAI-sponsored foster care reform legislation
    • streamlining the appeals process in dependency court proceedings
    • requirements for offering reunification services to parents
    • children's rights in the educational setting
    • California's child care inspection requirements
    • children's health insurance, specifically eligibility and enrollment patterns
    • special education accountability and financing
    • domestic violence and its impact on children
    • a proposed parenting curriculum
    • environmental threats facing children
    • child labor
    • the integration of services for emotionally disturbed children
    • the unconstitutionality of a legislative proposal to authorize the public courtroom paddling of juvenile graffiti offenders
    • the unmet legal needs of children in the courts
    • the role of substance abuse in dependency court action

For more information about CAI's academic program, email or call us at 619-260-4806.

For information about the USD School of Law, please visit its website or call 619-260-4528.

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Contact:

Children's Advocacy Institute
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110
Phone: (619) 260-4806
Fax: (619) 260-4753
Email Children's Advocacy Institute

Sacramento Office
800 J Street, Suite 504
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 444-5646
Email Sacramento Office