This week I began working as a social work intern at Lawyers for Children. Lawyers for Children advocates for children in New York City in abuse/neglect situations, children placed in foster care, and those involved in custody battles and paternity cases. The free advocacy service matches children with both an attorney and a social worker to ensure that they are adequately represented.
The quality that sets LFC apart from other advocating agencies is that they are dedicated to advocating for what the children want in their cases, not only for what they believe is best for the kids. They work hard to ensure that the child’s voice is heard and that they have a say in decisions that are made for them. Lawyers for Children also has numerous special projects that focus on high-risk children in the foster care system such as an LGBTQ task force, an immigration project, a project for youth aging out of the system, a task force specializing in sexual assault, and a mental health project.
As an intern, I was matched with a social worker and a youth advocate at the center. Social work interns are directly involved in the work LFC does and I felt very welcome in my first week. Interns accompany social workers on home visits, client interviews, and to court. I have really enjoyed working with my mentor, and already sense the dedication LFC has towards giving their clients a voice in their future. So far, it seems that the most trying part of the day is commuting on the subway during rush hour in New York City!
On top of shadowing a social worker, I have also been working with a Youth Advocate in the office. This Thursday the Youth Advisory Board met at the office to discuss their experiences. The Board is led by Youth Advocates and is composed of young adults in the foster care system who are clients at LFC. We provide them with resources at the end of the meeting such as an application to help them find employment, and resources about youth-led projects in NYC.
Serving as an intern at Lawyers For Children has thus far given me an opportunity to put into practice some of what I’ve learned and read about in classes at Brandeis. Now, I’m not only reading about court cases where individuals fought for their rights, I’m sitting in a court room with attorneys and social workers working to get the children what they need and want. I hope to learn how to effectively advocate for individuals who are in a difficult position to advocate for themselves, especially in a flawed system, such as the NYC foster care and child services systems.
Rachel Geller, ’18
Social Work WOW Fellow