Center on Children and the Law
The mission of the Center on Children and the Law is to provide a collaborative, multidisciplinary center for research, teaching, outreach, and service on children’s issues that intersect with the law. The Center is dedicated to improving children’s overall well-being.
Directed by Professor Lucy Johnston-Walsh, the Center works to accomplish its mission through:
- Research: Center faculty and student participants engage in interdisciplinary research projects on topics such as legal issues related to youth transition from the dependency system to adulthood for children, and the legal impact of youth decision-making capacity.
- Teaching: By modeling interdisciplinary collaboration, we train a new generation of practitioners who understand the value of cross-discipline practice. Faculty members work to develop cross-discipline courses, and clinical programs administered by affiliated faculty members will provide direct training experience for future practitioners in various fields, such as law and psychology.
- Outreach and Service: Center faculty and staff collaborate with other units at Penn State to provide information to the public on the detection, prevention and reporting of child abuse. To learn about detecting, preventing, and reporting child abuse, visit our collaborative website. Faculty members provide educational opportunities for students and practitioners—from physicians, to psychologists, to school administrators—for research dissemination; advocacy for informed policies and legislation on state and federal level; resource sharing (maintain clearinghouse of resources and research); and host colloquia to advance scholarly discussion and promote dialogue among faculty and students.
The lives of children intersect with the law in many ways: through education, welfare systems, health systems, mental health systems, justice systems, and more. Children’s connections to the law and legal systems raise many issues for research, teaching, and service. Too often valuable research is published but not directly conveyed to practitioners nor translated into improved outcomes for children. The Center’s research faculty members have completed extensive research on a multitude of issues that impact children’s lives and work to ensure that this research is translated into improved policies and practices on behalf of children.
Faculty and Staff
- Dr. Sandra Azar, professor of psychology
- Lucy Johnston-Walsh, Assistant Professor of Law and Director, Children’s Advocacy Clinic
- Dr. Benjamin Levi, assistant professor of humanities, and pediatrics
- Karen Galbraith, social work supervisor, Children’s Advocacy Clinic
- Jacqueline Stefkovich, professor, Penn State College of Education, Department of Policy Studies