Barton Child Law and Policy Center

The Barton Child Law and Policy Center promotes and protects the legal rights and interests of children who are involved with the juvenile court, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems. The Center's work is directed by Emory Law faculty and performed by law and other graduate students who participate in reform initiatives and holistic client representation by conducting research; advocating for individual clients; writing articles, policy papers, and other informational materials; and analyzing and drafting legislation and policy directives.

Message from the Director, Melissa Carter

Welcome to the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory University School of Law. Our mission is to promote and protect the legal rights and interests of children involved with the juvenile court, child welfare and juvenile justice systems; to inspire excellence and integrity among the professionals and within the institutions that serve children; and to prepare the next generation of lawyers. Please explore this site to learn more about how our faculty, students and alumni are positively impacting children’s lives through the provision of high quality legal representation and achieving systemic reform through research-based policy development and legislative advocacy.

The Barton Center’s three in-house legal clinics afford students a unique opportunity to integrate legal theory with law practice in a collaborative, interdisciplinary setting. Our students receive instruction in lawyering skills and practice those skills in courtrooms, legislative committee hearings, and administrative settings under close faculty supervision. As they are exposed to the social context against which laws operate, student attorneys in our clinics also gain critical insights into how laws impact vulnerable members of society. The experiences of advising real individual and organizational clients, conducting research and developing reform strategies, arguing before a judge or negotiating a plea, and resolving ethical and strategic challenges as they unfold in complex matters prepares our students for successful and fulfilling careers.

The Barton Center also serves as a resource for practitioners and policymakers committed to justice for children. We provide specialized training and consultation to juvenile court, child welfare and juvenile justice professionals and engage in systemic advocacy at the state and national levels. Visit the other pages on this site to better understand how together, through strategic partnerships and individual dedication, we can ensure justice and safety for all children.


News from the Barton Center

Barton Center Celebrates 15th Anniversary

The Barton Child Law and Policy Center proudly celebrates its 15th Anniversary. The Center has spent the past 15 years promoting and protecting the legal rights of children who are involved with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. While our work has been focused on Georgia's most vulnerable citizens, the Center's research has been utilized to inform policy and legislative reforms nationwide. We are particularly proud of our Center alumni who have continued to advocate for children through their careers and pro bono efforts. We look forward to another 15 years of positively impacting children's lives through high quality legal representation and research-based systemic reforms.

Child Welfare Legal Academy - April

Mark your calendars to save the dates for the next Child Welfare Legal Academy. Tuesday, April 21, from 1-3:15 pm at Emory University School of Law. Attorney and former Juvenile Court Judge, Tom Rawlings, will present findings on recent developments with the reversals of TPRs in appellate court and case management strategies to reduce the likelihood of an overturned ruling.  More details are available on the registration site tinyurl.com/tpr-reversals.

Child Welfare Legal Academy - May

Our May Child Welfare Legal Academy "Utilizing Law and Policies to Transition Foster Youth to Successful Adulthood," on Wed., May 20, 12:15-2:30 pm will feature a panel of child advocate professionals. This panel includes Carmen C. Callaway, DFCS Community Programs; Nia I. Cantey, Georgia ILP; Kathleen A. Edwards, GA Independent Living Specialist - Dekalb County; and, Mitzie Smith, Child Welfare Programs and Policy, Georgia DFCS. Temika W. Murry, Attorney and Child Welfare Legal Specialist, Dekalb County Child Advocacy Center, will serve as Moderator. Panelists will highlight the revised juvenile code and updated state policies that provide strong legal framework to enable youth to reach their full potential as they transition from foster care to adult independence. NOTE:  This program will be held at Dekalb County Juvenile Court. Registration and more details are available at tinyurl.com/transitionsuccessfuladult.

HR 4980 Preventing Sex Trafficking becomes law

On September 30, 2014, President Obama signed the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act into law. In addition to many new requirements to combat sex trafficking, this bill makes significant changes to our child welfare law. It includes new mandates for government regarding "runaways," new mandated "normalcy" provisions, restrictions on the use of APPLA for children under 16, and new rights for children in foster care. A summary being prepared by the ABA to explain what this new federal law means for the states will soon be available at www.childlawpractice.org.

Read the bill »

Read the press release by the House Ways and Means Committee »

Child Welfare Legal Academy presentation videos are back online!

Thank you for your patience as Emory School of Law transitioned to a new website. Our most recent Child Welfare Legal Academy presentations and juvenile code revision presentations are now available. Please visit and bookmark the Barton Center's "Presentations" page on the Emory Law website.


Support the Barton Center

Make a Donation
Your contribution directly supports the work of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center to improve the lives of abused, neglected, and court-involved children. Thank you for your generous support. Our work would not be possible without community contributions.

One Advisory Committee Member's Story
Stephen F. Fusco 98C 01L raises funds for the Barton Center, saying “The Barton Child Law and Policy Center was my single best experience in law school.”

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