By Lori AthertonMay 5, 2016
When Jackie Stolzenberg begins her summer internship at Michigan Law's Child Advocacy Law Clinic (CALC), she'll do so with crucial training under her belt, thanks to her selection as a 2016 Bergstrom Fellow.
The rising 2L is one of 15 law students from around the country that will participate in Michigan Law's Bergstrom Child Welfare Law Fellowship, a three-day training program that gives aspiring child welfare lawyers an overview of the child welfare system and its pressing issues. This year's program, which will be held May 11-13, will include two other Michigan Law students—rising 2L Laura Page and rising 3L Katie Joh—as well as law students from Harvard; New York University; the University of California, Berkeley; Michigan State University; and other law schools.
Vivek Sankaran, '01, director of the Child Advocacy Law Clinic and the organizer of this year's Bergstrom training, said the fellowship provides a needed "boost" to students interested in child welfare law. "The Bergstrom Fellowship gives students an opportunity to learn more about the child welfare system and to build a network with each other and with experts in the field, so they can go on to become leaders in this area of law," he said.
Topics to be covered during the training include child development; kinship care; the impact of trauma and poverty on the child welfare system; substance abuse and parenting; and race, culture, and child welfare. In addition, fellows will have lunch with high-level child welfare attorneys and judges on one of the days, and will participate in the CALC symposium, "Rethinking Foster Care," on the final day of training. The symposium will bring together 75 thought leaders in the national child welfare community for a high-level conversation about reforming the foster care system.
After the training, the fellows will utilize their newfound knowledge in child welfare internships around the country. Stolzenberg will work at CALC, while Page will head to the Alliance for Children's Rights in Los Angeles and Joh will intern at the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, California. The placements will last 10 weeks.
For Stolzenberg, who is interested in the foster care system and doing guardian ad litem work, the opportunity to connect with other aspiring child welfare attorneys is a highlight of the Bergstrom Fellowship. "The fellowship will be amazing opportunity to connect with others already doing amazing work, as well as a cohort of similarly interested law students from around the country," she said. "It's always great to meet and learn from others who are passionate about the same thing you are passionate about."
Page, too, is excited to meet the other fellows—"students from law schools around the country who are as invested in this work as I am"—and is looking forward to putting what she's learned into practice at the Alliance for Children's Rights. "I feel confident that the training, networking, and support the Fellowship provides will allow me to contribute more meaningfully to [Alliance's] work," Page said.
The Bergstrom Fellowship program began in 1995 with a three-year grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. It is now funded by a gift from the Bergstrom Foundation in honor of the late Henry A. Bergstrom, '35, which covers the fellows' living expenses during the training along with travel costs to Ann Arbor and to their placement location.
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