Renee Schenkman

  • Hosted by Lawyers for Children
  • Sponsored by The Morrison & Foerster Foundation
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Renee provided legal representation and advocated to address the needs of youth in Residential Treatment Centers and enforced the Family First Prevention Services Act.

In New York City, one in ten children in foster care is placed in congregate care, a non-familial, group setting. Rather than serving as a temporary emergency placement or a service-rich environment to meet the intensive needs of youth who cannot be placed in foster homes, these settings often isolate the most vulnerable youth. The Family First Prevention Services Act, which was enacted by Congress and implemented in New York in October 2021, was designed to curtail the inappropriate use of congregate care to ensure that youth in Residential Treatment Centers receive evidence-based, trauma-informed services.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Renee:

  • Took on full representation of over 40 clients
  • Collaborated with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (“ACS”) and other local organizations in the planning and implementation of Family First in New York by participating in meetings with stakeholders across the child welfare system
  • Presented internal training session on the implementation of Family First and drafted accompanying educational resources
  • Drafted a “Know Your Rights” pocket guide for youth in residential care
  • Collaborated with The Legal Aid Society and the Columbia Advocacy Lab at Columbia Law School to develop a proposal for ACS, in which children with disabilities in foster care receive the Social Security benefits to which they were entitled so that those funds assist in their attainment of critical services
  • Developed internal practice guide ensuring that clients are placed in congregate care only when necessary and that they are moved into family-based settings as quickly as possible


Morrison & Foerster Partners With Equal Justice Works To Support Recent Law School Graduates With A Passion For Public Service

Five NYU Law graduates named 2020 Equal Justice Works fellows

Far too often, children in foster care are told what’s in their best interest, and they aren’t given a meaningful opportunity to share their input. I am passionate about ensuring that every child’s voice is heard because every child deserves a safe, supportive home.

Renee Schenkman /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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