Advocates for children should be catalysts for change.
Youth Law and Policy Internship
In 2008, TeamChild launched a Youth Law and Policy internship program with financial support from Stoel Rives LLP and the Windermere Foundation. This program brings a team of high school and law school students to work together for a summer. The team researches and proposes reform strategies to remove barriers that prevent youth from succeeding. Policy topics are informed by issues facing TeamChild clients.
Our interns learned about the impact that school exclusion has on students and what happens to them during the time they are out of school. They took a lead role in scheduling and completing stakeholder interviews with judges, school administrators, and other community members. These experiences and opinions will be incorporated into a collaborative report between Washington Appleseed and TeamChild. Look out for the report in the fall of 2012.
Our interns studied the connection between school responses to perceived gang activity and juvenile justice involvement. The interns planned a community forum to gather data and perspectives from youth and parents. They partnered with El Centro de la Raza, Campaña Quetzal, and Consejo to reach the Latino community in Seattle. Our team presented their findings and recommendations to the Washington State Gangs in Schools Task Force. More information about the summer project is available in their final report.
Our interns focused their work on developing policy changes to ensure the provision of educational services to students during periods of disciplinary exclusion. The law students wrote a policy paper and drafted model legislation to tackle this issue. The youth interns produced a short movie incorporating educator and student perspectives on the topic. The interns also hosted round table discussions with professionals working in the juvenile court, school and legislative sectors.
In the first year of our internship program, the summer interns immersed themselves in research, data and policies contributing to the flow of disciplined students into the juvenile justice system. This issue is often referred to as the School to Prison Pipeline. Our youth interns were recruited from the Treehouse Coaching-to-College program and produced a short movie about the many factors contributing to this phenomenon. The law student interns developed a toolkit and website to create awareness on this policy issue.