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The Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic (ICAC)

Founded in 1983, the ICAC brings together law, social work, medicine and mental health to advocate across disciplines for vulnerable adolescents while teaching students fundamental lawyering skills.  

Students represent their clients across a range of venues, including state courts, administrative agencies, schools and social service organizations. In past years, students litigated as Child Advocates in Family Court and Domestic Relations Court and represented undocumented children facing deportation in Immigration Court. They advocated for clients to secure essential services including mental health treatment, financial aid, childcare benefits, and appropriate educational plans. In one of the first cases in Pennsylvania, clinic students successfully argued for two teen parents to re-enter foster care after they turned 18. The interdisciplinary team’s exceptional advocacy resulted in our clients securing stable, supportive housing for their family and wraparound services to assist with their medical and educational needs.

The Clinic gives law students the structure and support to provide direct representation to clients with complex problems involving the child welfare, education, immigration and mental health systems. Students prepare for their real life client representation through simulations focusing on interviewing, counseling, and litigation skills. Law students work in teams with graduate level social work students and receive additional supervision and guidance from the ICAC Social Work Supervisor. Throughout the semester, students learn from and collaborate with experts from CHOP, the Penn Center on Youth and Family Trauma and Recovery, and HIAS Pennsylvania.

A law student, pediatrician, and social work student meet with a client. A law student, pediatrician, and social work student meet with a client.

Representing adolescents through a team model to address the range of issues facing youth.Representing adolescents through a team model to address the range of issues facing youth.