Casey Smith, this year's MSW fieldwork intern from NC State School of Social Work, is completing her first semester in the UNC Clinical Programs. Casey is a second year graduate student who has provided invaluable assistance to UNC Law students as well as our clinic clients She shares her thoughts about her work thus far:
at the UNC Law Clinics this past semester has greatly expanded my knowledge in
rather diverse social justice areas. I have a better understanding of what I can
contribute to a juvenile who is court-involved as well as how criminal
records can prevent an individual from accessing a basic human right such as
housing. Though we are taught as social workers that these are systemic
concerns in our communities, seeing the way these limitations actually manifest
in real life has been consistently informative and motivating.
majority of the cases that I have been able to assist with this past semester
have been within the Youth Justice Clinic. I have assisted law students with
finding alternative schooling options such as GED programs, tutors or various
in-school programs that the client had not yet considered. I have also assisted
in finding various therapy options, mentoring options, and recreational options
that best fit the client’s emotional, educational and mental health needs.
Within the Civil Legal Assistance Clinic I have focused on how to find affordable housing
options for marginalized individuals here in the Triangle. I have learned that immigration status
and criminal history backgrounds lead to patterns of exclusion when it comes to
housing needs in our community. Navigating the extremity of these roadblocks
to housing, in particular, has elevated my interest in housing and the
role these limitations play in the lives of clients in social service agencies
across the board.
of assisting clients in accessing resources, I have also had the opportunity to work
with clients individually. Sometimes having that extra ‘ear’ can help
the law student assist the client in mapping out their needs and goals. When I meet with clients or discuss clients
with their law student advocates, we work towards finding what the barriers are for success and how we can find community resources that will lessen these burdens as much as possible. When we are able to achieve this, it is extremely
rewarding, no matter how small the "success" may be.
Working within UNC Clinical Programs has
certainly been a positive experience. Having the opportunity to work side by side with law students and faculty who all share the amazing ambition to support
youth and those marginalized in our community has been very encouraging.
We are grateful to Casey Smith for her help this semester and look forward to continued collaboration in the Spring.
Posted by Tamar R. Birckhead on Tue. December 8, 2015 2:46 PM
Civil Legal Assistance Clinic, Clinic Administration, Youth Justice Clinic