Lucy Johnston-WalshApril 2020 — As the pandemic spread across our country, Children’s Advocacy Clinic students buckled down to analyze the impact of the pandemic on their clients, as well as foster youth across the state. Professor Lucy Johnston-Walsh determined that one of the best ways the clinic could respond was to haves clinic students create blog posts in which they shared information about the impact of the pandemic.

As a Penn State News story recently explained, from school shut-downs to virtual court, clinic students blogged about the ways in which foster youth were impacted by the shut-downs. Director Johnston-Walsh supervised the students work and suggested issues for the students to write about. The clinic students represent children involved in the foster system and launched a blog to address the multiple ways that the pandemic was impacting their clients. The students wanted to raise awareness to how widespread the effects have been on foster youth. Clinic student Emily Kortight explained, “It’s easy for many of us to work from home,” by getting on our laptops and calling people. While we have all these ways to communicate, foster children do not.” Students reported that they hope their research prompts people to reach out with offers of assistance or even a friendly “how’s it going” to foster families during a hard time. Project participants included Bob Gavin, Caitlin Cooke, Jake Younts, and Jill Gorman, as well as the interning graduate social workers.

Lucy Johnston-Walsh is a Clinical Professor of Law and founding director of the Dickinson Law Children’s Advocacy Clinic. Professor Johnston-Walsh’s research, teaching and service focus on juvenile law, specifically legal challenges of youth involved in the foster care system. She supervises law students in the legal representation of youth involved in the dependency system and her scholarship directly relates to systemic issues presented through the clinic cases, as well as interdisciplinary collaboration in the field of child advocacy. Her recent scholarship has been published in both medical journals and law reviews with forthcoming articles in Akron Law Review and Seattle Journal for Social Justice.