The Child Advocacy Program (CAP) at Harvard Law School is committed to advancing children’s interests through facilitating productive interaction between academia and the world of policy and practice, and through training generations of students to contribute in their future careers to law reform and social change.  We are committed to a broad vision of advocacy, working both in and outside of the courtroom, as well as across disciplinary lines.

  • An academic classroom course, called Child, Family, and State, designed to educate students about substantive legal issues important to children.  (Family Law is taught in alternating years.)
  • A policy workshop, called Art of Social Change: Child Welfare, Education, and Juvenile Justice, designed to bring into HLS classrooms leading child advocates and policy-makers from different disciplines and practice settings (e.g., law, medicine, social science, academia, child welfare agencies, state and federal legislatures), engaging students in important debates as to how best to advance children’s interests, and exposing students to a range of career paths relevant to this work. Click here for speakers and sessions from past years.
  • A clinical course, called Child Advocacy Clinic, designed to educate students about the wide variety of ways in which they can use their legal abilities to work for children, and encourage critical thinking about the pros and cons of different approaches. Students are placed with lawyers representing children in individual advocacy contexts, with legal organizations promoting systemic change through impact litigation and/or legislative reform, with the state care and protective organizations that are supposed to guard children against abuse and neglect, with early home visitation programs that focus on supporting fragile families, and with other types of organizations pursuing other strategies for change. Students work on a huge range of projects for these organizations, demonstrating the myriad ways in which reform efforts can be advanced. They bring their different experiences into the classroom so that all in the clinical program can learn from the rich combination of fieldwork experiences, and debate the value of different approaches.
  • A center:
    • To support academic research and writing, including a writing seminar called Future of the Family.
    • To support students at HLS interested in children’s issues, through various activities beyond the formal course offerings, including:
    • To engage the larger community of academics and activists interested in children’s issues, through, e.g., conferences and cooperative work on law reform projects.