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Prof. Don Duquette 

Duquette set to accept child justice award

By John Masson
Oct. 2, 2012

Longtime Michigan Law child welfare law expert Prof. Don Duquette is set to receive a top award next week from the Governor's Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect.

The Ernestine Moore Justice for Children Award is presented annually to those who help kids "generously, ungrudgingly, and in the spirit of self-sacrifice." The award is named for the late Ernestine "Erney" Moore, who served on the task force and whose career as a social worker, lawyer, professor, author, and community leader demonstrated her lifelong commitment to helping Michigan's children and families.

This year's award will be presented to Duquette, a 1974 Michigan Law graduate, at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 11, during the 17th annual summit of the Governor's Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect.

"Erney Moore and I were colleagues and allies—and friends. This is a great and poignant honor for me. Erney’s memory reminds us that justice for children is fundamental—and elusive. We must work harder and smarter for children," said Prof. Duquette.

Prof. Duquette, a native of Manistique, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is recognized nationally for his pioneering approach to child advocacy. He founded the nation's first Child Advocacy Law Clinic at Michigan Law in 1976, and also wrote the path-breaking book Advocating for the Child in Protection Proceedings in 1990. The book helped lead to a congressionally mandated examination of child representation.

More recently, Duquette has been directing a multiyear effort to develop a best practice model for representing children in court proceedings. The National Quality Improvement Center for Child Representation in the Child Welfare System, funded largely with a $6 million grant from the U.S. Children's Bureau, is based at Michigan Law. Duquette is working with child advocates in Georgia and the state of Washington on the first-ever random assignment experimental design research to test the effectiveness of the QIC approach.

The Ernestine Moore award fits Duquette's background particularly well. He was a social worker specializing in child protection and foster care before he earned his JD. He also served as an assistant professor of pediatrics and human development at Michigan State University, and he served for several years on the Governor's Task Force—and many other committees, as well—with Erney Moore, the award's namesake.

"Erney was passionate about child welfare. She could also tell it like it is. Over a glass of wine I want to ask her 'How we doing now, Erney?' She'd say: 'We're not done yet; the cause endures.' "

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