Mutual of America’s Community Partnership Award is given “for being an outstanding example of leadership in the facilitation of partnerships between public, private, and special sector organizations to build better communities for the future.” In 2018 and again this semester, the Family Advocacy Clinic, directed by Professor and Associate Dean for Experiential Education Leah Hill, joined forces with New Alternatives for Children (NAC) Kids Can Education Partnership to advocate with the NYC Department of Education to provide services to support children with highly specialized needs in order to minimize the impact of child welfare involvement on the child’s academic success.
Educational success is widely regarded as one pathway out of poverty. However, children with medical complexity—those with significant health problems, disabilities, or developmental disorders—often experience significant barriers that prevent them from accessing the resources and tools needed to build a strong foundation for the future.
Hill is a proponent of community partnerships because there is a strong social work component in delivering legal services to children needing special education services from the city to help them succeed. Hill is responsible for instituting and maintaining social work graduate students to work in the Family Advocacy Clinic alongside law students. The social work interns work under the supervision of a social work supervisor. This interdisciplinary clinical approach, active at Fordham for nearly 15 years, was one of the first of its kind among law clinics in the country.