Levin College of Law
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Family Law & Social Policy

Course Number: Family Law & Social Policy Credits: 2

The focus of this seminar is the development of law and public policy at the federal and state level with respect to families and children. The initial substantive focus of the seminar will be on children’s rights. This implicates a broad range of issues, including constitutional and developmental frameworks, international human rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, juvenile justice, reproductive rights of minors, rights of identify for adopted children and children conceived through alternative reproductive technologies, foster care, educational and disability rights, rights of children during conflict and wartime, children as victims of domestic violence and abuse, and consideration of class, race and gender issues (disproportionate minority representation in foster care and juvenile justice; failure to consider girls in the juvenile justice system). The contributions of other disciplines to our understanding of children’s issues are also critical (e.g., child development, psychology, social work, pediatrics, neurology). In addition, I encourage you to become familiar with (and may want to focus on) various organizations and NGOs active in advocating for children or representing successful strategies or programs, at local, state, and national levels that are involved with the subject you choose to write about. Although we will begin by focusing on children, your paper may focus on any aspect of law or policy that affects families. So, for example, this might include definitions of family, the scope of marriage, parental rights and definitions, changing family forms and their implications, domestic violence policy and practice, and the contributions of other disciplines to family (eg, child development, neurology). In other words, the goal of the seminar is to give you an opportunity to seriously reflect upon and consider the relationship and actual functioning of law and public policy with respect to children and families. Your discussions with others as well as your in depth research and analysis of your project topic are vehicles to achieve that goal.