Beth Kurtz

  • Hosted by Children’s Law Center
  • Sponsored by The Morrison & Foerster Foundation
  • Service location Washington , District of Columbia
  • Law school The University of Michigan Law School
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Disability Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2014
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

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.

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.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Beth has:

  • Represented children with mental health needs in abuse and neglect proceedings as Guardian ad Litem
  • Represented parents seeking public benefits or educational services necessary to support children with mental health needs
  • Consulted with and trained attorneys to be effect mental health advocates
  • Created and assembled training materials and led numerous trainings on child welfare, children’s mental health, and legal advocacy pertaining to the rights of mental health service consumers
  • Advocated for the reduction of barriers to accessing high-quality mental health services through policy work

Where are they now?

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Beth plans to:

  • Continue advocating for children and teens with mental health-related disabilities
  • Defend the civil rights of youth and families involved in the child welfare system
  • Empower and amplify the voices of those in traditionally disenfranchised or vulnerable communities through legal advocacy


Meet Other Fellows Like Beth

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Jaynie Leung

Host: Children's Law Center of Minnesota

Sponsor: Robins Kaplan LLP

Sarah Bellinger

Host: Advocacy, Inc.

Sponsor: Texas Access to Justice Foundation

Sara Zimmerman

Host: Disability Rights Advocates

Sponsor: Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP

Headshot of Jilisa Milton

Jilisa Milton

Host: Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program

Sponsor: Alabama Civil Justice Foundation