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Tara Grigg Garlinghouse Selected as First Recipient of the Alan Lerner Fellowship in Child Welfare Policy

September 26, 2011
Tara Grigg Garlinghouse

Tara Grigg Garlinghouse L'13 was selected for the first Alan Lerner Fellowship in Child Welfare Policy, awarded by Penn’s Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research at its inaugural “Field of Dreams” luncheon.

Garlinghouse grew up in a home with parents who cared for more than 80 foster children. As an undergraduate at Rice University, she researched how the parenting practices of teenage mothers have an impact on child development and how socioeconomic status serves as a mitigating factor.

She has worked on systemic changes for the Houston municipal courts, volunteered with Penn Law’s Custody and Support Assistance Clinic and is the recipient of two earlier child welfare fellowships. Garlinghouse is also pursuing a master’s in public policy with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University while working on her law degree from Penn.

She hopes to spend her career working on large-scale policy changes that address both the child-welfare system and the underlying issues that result in children being placed in foster care.

 “Alan Lerner truly believed in training the next generation of leaders. He established Penn Law School’s Child Advocacy Clinic and taught students of law, medicine and social work together – sharing with them the importance of interdisciplinary approaches in addressing child welfare and thus improving the lives of victims of child abuse and neglect,” Debra Schilling Wolfe, the executive director of the Field Center, said. “Each fellow will complete a full academic year with the Field Center by continuing the interdisciplinary work started by Professor Lerner.”

The Field Center also announced that Cindy Christian is this year’s recipient of the Alan Lerner Child Advocacy Award. Christian is a professor of pediatrics at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. She holds the Chair in Child Abuse Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is the first medical director of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services.

The inaugural “Field of Dreams” luncheon was dedicated to the legacy of the late Alan M. Lerner, Field Center faculty director and professor at Penn Law. WPVI-TV anchor Monica Malpass served as the event’s master of ceremonies, and Benjamin Lerner from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas was the featured speaker.

The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the School of Social Policy & Practice, Law School and Perelman School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It works to improve the lives of victims of child abuse and neglect by reforming the systems that are responsible for protecting them through innovative and critical change.