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Focusing the Lens: Assessing Equity Issues in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare (2021 Juvenile Justice & Children's Rights Section Program)

8:55        Welcome and Introductions

9:00        Overcoming Implicit Bias in the Juvenile Justice System*

Chief Judge Elizabeth T. Trosch, North Carolina District Court, Charlotte
Judge Donald R. Cureton Jr., North Carolina District Court, Charlotte

Justice being blind or impartial is a hallmark of our American court system. However, studies show implicit bias is present in our justice system — including in the juvenile justice system. Judges Trosch and Cureton explore ways in which implicit bias shows up in the judicial system, how implicit bias impacts juvenile justice in North Carolina, and practical solutions to overcome bias.

10:30      Break

10:40      Disproportionate Impact/Treatment of Minority and Disabled Students

Cari E. Carson, Advocates for Children's Services – Legal Aid of North Carolina, Durham
Jennifer R. Story, Advocates for Children's Services – Legal Aid of North Carolina, Durham

Statistics illustrate disproportionalities and disparities in the treatment and outcomes of minority and disabled students. Discipline disparities, disproportionalities in special education and gaps in achievement are three areas where our education system struggles. The COVID-19 pandemic has acerbated these and other educational challenges. This session discusses those topics and provides education law practitioners and other attorneys who represent juveniles with tools and strategies to advocate for juveniles' educational needs.

11:25      Break

11:35      Panel Discussion: Crossover Youth and the Impacts in Minority Communities

Sara A. DePasquale, UNC School of Government, Chapel Hill
Mary G. Holliday, Jackson County Department of Social Services, Webster
Lyana G. Hunter, New Hanover County Office of the Public Defender, Wilmington
Eric J. Zogry, North Carolina Office of the Juvenile Defender, Raleigh (Moderator)

Minority juveniles are overrepresented in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Juveniles' and families' challenges are compounded when they are involved with both systems. This session helps attorneys representing juveniles and families to navigate and advocate in both systems.

12:35      Lunch Break

1:05        Panel Discussion: Overrepresentation of Minority Families in the Child Welfare System

Derrik Anderson, Race Matters for Juvenile Justice, Charlotte
Christina Harrison, North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program, Raleigh
Reginald D. "Reggie" O'Rourke, North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program, Raleigh (Moderator)
Wendy Sotolongo, North Carolina Parent Representation Coordinator, Durham

Statistics show that 33 percent of children in foster care in the United States are African American, but these children make up only 15 percent of the child population. Numerous studies have shown that not only is there disproportionality in child welfare cases, but that racial disparities also occur at various decision points in the child welfare continuum. This session reviews recent child welfare statistics in North Carolina, examines approaches attorneys can use to address racial disparities, and discusses strategies for being more responsive to the needs of minority children and families in abuse, neglect and dependency proceedings.

1:50        Break

2:00        Looking Forward: The Impact and Implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act

Tracy D. Turner, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Social Services, Raleigh

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 ("Family First Act" or "Family First") significantly changes how the child welfare system is funded and operates. Family First prioritizes the importance of children living with families and includes a number of provisions related to prevention services, foster care placement and transition from foster care. This session details North Carolina's plans for implementation of the act this year and notes important impacts for child welfare attorneys and practitioners.

2:30        Adjourn

*Indicates portion providing Ethics/Professional Responsibility credit

Thank you

Thank you for joining us for Focusing the Lens: Assessing Equity Issues in Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare (2021 Juvenile Justice & Children's Rights Section Program).


  • Tawanda Foster Artis

    Tawanda Foster Artis is a North Carolina native and proud double tarheel (Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor), Tawanda Foster Artis presently serves as a senior staff attorney at the North Carolina General Assembly. As a legislative attorney, Tawanda is tasked with researching, drafting, and consulting with lawmakers on new and existing laws. She advises the chairmen of legislative committees and consults with legislators and partisan staff on a wide variety of legal subjects including juvenile law, state government, employment, labor, pensions, retirement, health, and human services. During the 2017 long session, she was the primary drafter of the "Raise the Age" legislation, now known as the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act.

    Tawanda has worked in state government for 16 years. Prior to joining the non-partisan staff at the legislature, Tawanda served as appellate counsel and pro bono program manager at the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts handling appellate child welfare cases from across the state of North Carolina and training other attorneys to do the same. She has also previously served our state as a criminal prosecutor for several years and as an assistant attorney general at the North Carolina Department of Justice representing the North Carolina Department of Labor for almost seven years.

    Tawanda enjoys volunteering as a reading buddy in child literacy programs and in hunger relief charities. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Arts Council of Wilson, and has previously served on the Board of Directors for the Food Runners Collaborative, Inc. and as an associate board member for the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Inc. She is active in the North Carolina Br Association, serving as a Co-Chair of the Minorities in the Profession Committee, member of the Professionalism Committee, and treasurer of the Juvenile Justice and Children's Rights Section. She has taught continuing legal education courses and workshops on both child welfare and juvenile delinquency issues. In her free time, Tawanda enjoys traveling, live music, poetry, and spending time with her family.

    Click here for more information about Tawanda.

  • Derrik Anderson

    Derrik Anderson has been the Executive Director of Race Matters for Juvenile Justice for more than four years. In this role, Derrik is the system organizer that leads a collaborative leadership group of 15 partner organizations and institutions working within the community to reduce disproportionality and disparity outcomes for children and families of color.

    Prior to being the Executive Director, Derrik was the Principal Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Trainer and Consultant at D. Anderson and Associates LLC.

    Click here for more information about Derrik.

  • Cari E. Carson

    Cari E. Carson is a staff attorney at Advocates for Children's Services, the statewide education justice project of Legal Aid of North Carolina focused on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline in North Carolina.

    In her professional as well as personal life, Cari is a zealous advocate for students with disabilities in North Carolina. She is particularly passionate about improving outcomes for students of color with mental health disabilities.

    Cari holds degrees in law and social work from the University of Michigan, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Education from the University of North Carolina.

    Click here for more information about Cari.

  • Judge Donald R. Cureton Jr.

    Judge Donald R. Cureton Jr. is a District Court Judge in Mecklenburg County. He was first elected in November 2010, and then appointed by Governor Roy Cooper in February 2019. He is state certified in juvenile court matters including abuse, neglect, dependency, and delinquency cases. Prior to joining the bench, he worked for the Mecklenburg County Public Defender's Office, and for Powers McCartan (formerly known as Bush & Powers), a local law firm.

    In 2017, he graduated from the Community Building Initiative (CBI) Leadership Development Institute (LDI) as part of a group representing Race Matters for Juvenile Justice (RMJJ). In 2012, Donald graduated from the second class of CBI's Leaders-Under- 40 program (LU40), and in 2009, Donald graduated from the Mecklenburg County Bar, Bar Leadership Institute.

    Currently, he serves on the North Carolina Governor's Crime Commission Children's Justice Act sub-committee and is an executive committee member of Race Matters for Juvenile Justice (RMJJ).

    A native Charlottean, Donald is a graduate of Garinger Senior High School, Winston-Salem State University, and the Howard University School of Law. Donald has been married for sixteen years to Deanna Cureton, the 2017-2018 CMS Teacher of the Year, and they have a eight-year-old daughter, Dea.

    Click here for more information about Judge Donald R. Cureton Jr.

  • Sara A. DePasquale

    Sara A. DePasquale is an associate professor of public law and government at the School of Government at UNC Chapel Hill. She specializes in child welfare law in North Carolina, teaching, advising, and writing for judicial and government officials, attorneys, and other professionals. Her publications include two books: Abuse, Neglect, Dependency, and Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings in North Carolina and Fathers and Paternity: Applying the Law in North Carolina Child Welfare Cases as well as School of Government bulletins, books chapters, and regular posts to the On the Civil Side blog. Her primer Stages of Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases in North Carolina: From Report to Final Disposition earned the School's Margaret Taylor Writing Award in 2016. DePasquale was named Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Associate Professor for 2020-2022.

    Prior to joining the School of Government faculty, she practiced for several years at Pine Tree Legal Assistance, a statewide legal services provider. After graduating magna cum laude from the University at Buffalo School of Law with a dual MSW degree from the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, she started her legal career as a Skadden Arps Fellow. She received her BA with honors from Binghamton University. She is a member of the North Carolina and Maine state bars.

    Click here for more information about Sara.

  • Christina Harrison

    Christina Harrison has dedicated her career to helping vulnerable children in need of advocacy on various platforms, including education, child welfare and mental health. Committed to the belief that every child needs a powerful voice, Christina has successfully developed innovative programs, practices and services that have resulted in permanency, increased services, and overall well-being for children. By focusing on the security of children and the development of stronger families, she has created sustainable resources where children have received advocacy from volunteers recruited within the community to support their best interest and partnerships fostered to support local advocacy efforts.

    For the past eight years, Christina has served as the Assistant Administrator of the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program. Through her works, she leads the program's community engagement, public relations, digital media management, and statewide volunteer recruitment activities. In addition, she also provides leadership to the organization's Racial Equity and Inclusion strategies. Christina guides the statewide and local racial equity plans that address the disproportionality of the child clients and families served, as well as the staffing inequities for the individual programs. Although Christina has received several accolades for her work, she says her greatest reward is "the thousands of children I helped escaped abuse and neglectful situations, and the beginning impact achieved in dismantling racism within the GAL program."

    Click here for more information about Christina.

  • Mary G. Holliday

    Mary G. Holliday is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School and has four years experience as a rural assistant DA in Wisconsin. Since moving to the Mountains, in the 30th Judicial District, Mary has been an attorney advocate for the Guardian ad Litem Program for 26 years, and a DSS attorney for 22 years. While she has only had a handful of cases that involve "crossover youth", she has appeared many times in DSS cases involving the Indian Child Welfare Act and hopes to speak about some of the cultural issues she has seen for those juveniles.

  • Lyana G. Hunter

    Lyana G. Hunter is an Assistant Public Defender in Office of the Public Defender, District 5 (Wilmington, NC). There she provides legal representation for clients in Juvenile Delinquency, Abuse, Neglect, Dependency court. She manages attorneys on the court-appointed list for Parent Representation, and organizes and facilitates trainings for local attorneys. Lyana previously served as one of the defense attorneys for Community Recovery Treatment court, which is a program dedicated to assisting New Hanover County residents with overcoming their substance abuse addiction and becoming productive members of the community. She is a member of the Criminal Justice Advisory Group, a city- and county-sponsored workgroup made up of local leaders in the criminal justice system in New Hanover County. Lyana has been a member of the local Juvenile Crime Prevention Council since 2010. She also currently presents lectures and assists in facilitating various trainings related to Parent Representation and Juvenile Delinquency Law at UNC Chapel Hill School of Government and with other statewide organizations.

    Prior to 2006 and moving to North Carolina, Lyana served as Attorney Advisor with the D.C. Public Schools Office of the General Counsel, where she represented the school system in Special Education due process hearings. Prior to that Lyana worked as a Staff Attorney for the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland. Lyana was the 2018 Winner of WILMA's Women to Watch Award (Public Service category) that recognizes women in the community who are making an impact. Lyana earned her Juris Doctor from Howard University School of Law and earned her B.A. Degree in Sociology and Human Services (double major) from Villanova University.

    Click here for more information about Lyana.

  • Michelle FormyDuval Lynch

    Michelle FormyDuval Lynch is an attorney at the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem State Office in Raleigh.

    Michelle ;graduated from East Carolina University (B.S.), N.C. State University (M.A.), and received her J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law. After law school, Michelle clerked for a Chief Circuit Court Judge in Georgetown, South Carolina, and for Judge Robert C. Hunter at the N.C. Court of Appeals. She was in private practice for over 18 years.

    Michelle has concentrated in appellate litigation and juvenile law for most of her career. She has been represented clients in numerous appeals to the N.C. Court of Appeals and the N.C. Supreme Court in civil, criminal, and juvenile cases.

    Click here for more information about Michelle.

  • Reginald D. "Reggie" O'Rourke

    Reginald D. "Reggie" O'Rourke is a Guardian Ad Litem Associate Counsel, North Carolina Judicial Branch, Administrative Office of the Courts in Raleigh.

    Reggie earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1994 and he began his professional career as the Marketing Director of a law firm. Reggie's love of people led him to work in the field of human resources, where he worked for IBM and Ceridian Corporation. He left the field of human resources so that he could pursue his lifelong interest in the law by attending the North Carolina Central University School of Law. After graduating from law school, he briefly worked for a large law firm where he provided civil litigation support in complex civil matters. Next, Reggie joined a Raleigh-based criminal defense firm where he represented hundreds of clients in district court, superior court, federal court, and at administrative hearings conducted by the Division of Motor Vehicles. In 2011, he began working for the Guardian ad Litem Program as a staff GAL Attorney Advocate in Wake County. Reggie left that position in 2016 to assume his current role as Associate Counsel for the North Carolina GAL Program.

    As Associate Counsel, Reggie advises the GAL Administrator on legal issues; provides legal advice and training to GAL Attorney Advocates and GAL staff across the state; and he represents the GAL Program on a number of committees including the Court Improvement Program's Juvenile Code Revisions Subcommittee, the Interagency Collaboration Committee, and the Training Committee.

    Click here for more information about Reggie.

  • Wendy Sotolongo

    Wendy Sotolongo received her JD from the UNC School of Law in 1987. Since then she has practiced almost exclusively in abuse/neglect/dependency court as an agency attorney, a solo practitioner and as a Guardian ad Litem attorney advocate. In December 2006, she began working at the Office of Indigent Services (IDS) in the newly created position of Parent Representation Coordinator. Since 2008, she has been a Steering Committee Member of the American Bar Association's National Alliance for Parent Representation. In 2014, she was certified as a Child Welfare Law Specialist by the National Association of Counsel for Children. In 2018, she was appointed by the Indigent Defense Services Commission as IDS' Parent Defender.

    Click here for more information about Wendy.

  • Jennifer R. Story

    Jennifer R. Story is the Managing Attorney of Advocates for Children's Services, the statewide education justice project of Legal Aid of North Carolina focused on dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline in North Carolina.

    Since moving to North Carolina in 2005, Jen has focused solely on youth and education advocacy, first as the Juvenile Court/School Liaison for Judicial District 15B, then as a Guardian ad Litem, and presently as an education justice attorney. She is a member of the leadership council of the Juvenile Justice and Children's Rights Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, and also serves as the co-chair of the section's racial justice subcommittee.

    Jen holds a law degree from the UNC School of Law and a degree in psychology from Rhodes College in Memphis.

    Click here for more information about Jen.

  • Chief Judge Elizabeth T. Trosch

    Chief Judge Elizabeth T. Trosch has been a district court judge since 2008.

    Judge Trosch is a graduate of Hollins College where she earned a B.A. in Philosophy and Social Psychology. She earned her law degree at Wake Forest University School of Law.

    Judge Trosch has presided over a broad range of matters, including: domestic violence, criminal proceedings, juvenile delinquency, custody, abuse and neglect proceedings as well as a variety of civil cases. She is a member of the North Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force Public Safety Committee, the Mecklenburg County Anti-human Trafficking Committee and the North Carolina Interagency Collaborative. Judge Trosch has spearheaded court reform in criminal and juvenile courts. She is the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Mecklenburg County School-Justice Partnership and the Co-Chair of the Racial and Ethnic Disparities Reduction Workgroup. Judge Trosch has worked to implement pretrial release policy reforms and criminal justice debt reforms. She has served on the Mecklenburg County Domestic Violence Advisory Board and as lead domestic violence judge for Mecklenburg County. She is a member of the Race Matters for Juvenile Justice Leadership Team. She served on the Child Fatality Prevention and Protection Team and has served as lead juvenile judge for Mecklenburg County. Judge Trosch has served as the Charlotte Model Court Lead Judge working to carry out systems change that positively impacts outcomes in child welfare cases. She has presented on the topic of trauma informed court practices, the school-to-prison-pipeline and implicit bias at state and national conferences. Judge Trosch is a recipient of the North Carolina State Bar Pro Bono Service Award.

    Judge Trosch is married to Eric Carl Trosch. They have two sons, ages 15 and 13 and an adult niece whom they raised. Their oldest son is a freshman at East Mecklenburg High School and their youngest son is in 8th grade at Waddell Language Academy.

    Click here for more information about Chief Judge Elizabeth T. Trosch.

  • Tracy D. Turner

    Tracy D. Turner currently serves as the Child and Family Services Plan (CFSP) Coordinator of the NC Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services, Child Welfare Services Section. In this role, she coordinates the state's child welfare transformation efforts, including but not limited to some activities related to the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) and the state's CFSP / Annual Progress and Services Report (APSR).

    During the past twenty-plus years, Ms. Turner has served in a variety of roles helping to support children and families, including as the Deputy Director of the NC Domestic Violence Commission, the Coordinator of the Domestic Violence and Child Well-Being Initiative, and the Executive Director of the NC Association of County Directors of Social Services.

    Ms. Turner obtained her Juris Doctorate degree from NC Central University, her Master of Science degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and her Bachelor of Arts degree from NC State University.

  • Eric J. Zogry

    Eric J. Zogry was born and raised in Raleigh and received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in Religious Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1992. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center in 1996 and was admitted to the North Carolina State Bar in 1997. After working for the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission and the Research Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts, Eric joined the staff of the Public Defender's Office in Greensboro in February 1999, practicing exclusively in juvenile delinquency and involuntary commitment court.

    Eric was appointed state Juvenile Defender by the Indigent Defense Services Commission in November 2004 and has served since then. The core mission of the Office of the Juvenile Defender is to provide services and support to defense attorneys and to evaluate and improve the system of representation. Eric served as Director of the Southern Juvenile Defender Center from 2010 to 2014, providing resources and support for juvenile defenders in seven southeastern states. In 2013 Eric was among the first class board certified by the North Carolina State Bar as a specialist in criminal law- juvenile delinquency.

    Eric received the Robert E. Shepard Award for Excellence in Juvenile Defense from the National Juvenile Defender Center in October 2013. He was recognized as a Defender of Justice by the North Carolina Justice Center in 2018 and the North Carolina Bar Association Juvenile Justice Section Children's Champion in 2019.

    Eric lives in Raleigh with his wife Becky and two daughters Rachel and Camille.

    Click here for more information about Eric.

April 8, 2021
Thu 8:55 AM EDT

Duration 5H 35M

This live web event has ended.