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Erica Taft

  • Hosted by Lawyers for Children
  • Sponsored by KPMG LLP, The Sidley Austin Foundation
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school Boston College Law School & School of Social Work
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Domestic Violence
  • Fellowship class year 2024
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

At Lawyers for Children, Erica (she/her/hers) will provide trauma-informed advocacy for children involved in domestic violence-related matters in the New York County Family Court and engage in data-driven training and community outreach to mitigate the cycle of domestic violence in her client’s communities.

New York’s Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Courts address the unique needs of families affected by DV; IDV Judges remove cases from Family Court and Criminal Court that are rooted in DV so that these cases can be heard by one experienced judge in Supreme Court, who takes a holistic approach to case resolution. However, New York County’s IDV Court does not remove child protective cases from Family Court, instead focusing on matrimonial and custodial matters. The resulting gap is two-fold: 1) all abuse, neglect, and other child protective matters with DV components and 2) the many custodial matters with DV components that do not result in criminal charges remain in Family Court. Thus, the children and families involved in these cases do not have the benefit of the IDV Court’s holistic approach and expertise.

Fellowship Plans

Erica will work with Lawyers for Children’s interdisciplinary teams to represent children in both child protective and custody cases involving domestic violence in New York County Family Court to provide the nuanced advocacy that the IDV Courts demonstrate is needed in such matters. Throughout her fellowship, she will develop data-driven trainings and act as a consultant for Lawyers for Children’s staff on these issues as well. Erica will engage in multidisciplinary preventative efforts to interrupt domestic violence in her clients’ communities by providing legal rights education and seeking out collaboration with community organizations already engaged in DV prevention.

From forensic interviewing in New Orleans to interviewing child right’s activists in rural Nepal, representing children in domestic violence-related matters is a realization of my long-standing dream of being a child advocate and the culmination of my studies and experience over the past decade.

Erica Taft /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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