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 provides legal representation and advocates to address the needs of youth in Residential Treatment Centers and the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Children’s Center and enforces 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 will be implemented in New York in October 2021, was designed to curtail the inappropriate use of congregate care and to ensure that youth in Residential Treatment Centers receive evidence-based, trauma-informed services.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

During the first year of the Fellowship, Renee has:

  • Took on full representation of over 20 clients in neglect and abuse cases, voluntary cases, and custody and visitation cases
  • Partnered with The Legal Aid Society and Latham & Watkins to develop a plan for comprehensive, long-lasting reform to major issues in congregate facilities
  • Collaborated with ACS and other local organizations in anticipation of the 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
  • Assisted LFC in planning for potential impact litigation to improve the conditions of RTCs
  • Drafted a “Know Your Rights” pocket guide for youth in residential care

Next Steps

In the next six months, Renee plans to:

  • Continue representing clients in foster care in all family court proceedings
  • Collaborate with partner organizations to develop a plan for comprehensive reforms in congregate facilities
  • Develop and maintain mechanisms to monitor ACS’s compliance with Family First mandates
  • Provide consultation to staff and partner organizations regarding new mandates under Family First


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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