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Beth Kurtz

2014, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Beth Kurtz

Beth Kurtz

Name of Host Organization: Children’s Law Center
City, State: Washington , District of Columbia
Issue area: Disability Rights, Children/Youth
Sponsors: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

The Project

Beth advocated through legal and administrative systems to connect at-risk children in Washington, DC with timely, community-based, well-coordinated, and effective mental health services.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
Almost one in five children has a diagnosable mental illness, and the incidence of mental illness is even more common in communities where children are likely to face trauma due to living in poverty, witnessing violence, or facing persistent neglect. Yet children with mental health issues in DC—particularly those in foster care—have long faced obstacles in obtaining the care they need to address these issues as the District has failed to meet its legal obligations. Ultimately, undetected and undertreated mental health issues spur children toward academic failure, involvement in the juvenile justice system, unnecessary interaction with the child welfare system, or institutionalization. The tides are changing and the District has an opportunity reform the way it addresses the mental health needs of at-risk children. Through direct representation in family court and administrative proceedings, attorney training and outreach, and legislative advocacy, this project was designed to help kids get the care they need.