The W.W. Caruth, Jr. Child Advocacy Clinic at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law has established a Community Advisory Group ("CAG") whose purpose is to create and encourage positive change throughout the child welfare system. CAG is a multidisciplinary group that is comprised of legal, medical, mental health, judicial, educational, social work, and volunteer professionals who work with abused and neglected children and their families. In addition to these professionals, CAG also includes the voice of foster parents, foster children, and kinship care providers.
One of the primary ways that CAG may generate improvements within the child welfare process is by providing educational forums for family and juvenile court judges, various county and state officials, and at risk families in the community. CAG will also have input in the continuing educational programs that the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Child Advocacy Clinic provides to the professionals that work in the child welfare field. For updates on CAG
CAG has created two subcommittees to address specific issues and challenges in the child welfare field. The Psychotropic Medication Subcommittee focuses on identifying options for better oversight of children in foster care on psychotropic medications. This committee has met with medical providers, judges, social workers, and foster parents to ensure that the use of psychotropic drugs is tailored to each individual child's needs.
The Kinship Lawyers Committee focuses on ways to provide legal aid services to family members of children who are not yet in CPS care. Kinship providers are often able to step in and help care for a child while the parents are unable to do so because of drug addiction or incarceration. Providing free legal assistance to these relatives can help to provide a safe permanent placement for children without involving the state.