Summer 2019

It is well into summer now and I hope each of you have spent some fun time with family and friends. That being said, the new school year will be starting again before we know it!  That always presents a busy and challenging time here at OCA.  Many of our child clients struggle with education issues related to the trauma they have experienced, lack of consistency in their education, or general learning disabilities.  OCA's resident education expert, Eliza Hirst, Esq., wrote a fantastic article about "Trauma, Resilience and the Impact on Learning" for the ABA Journal that talks about  the work we are doing in Delaware to achieve better outcomes for our kids who have experienced trauma.  I hope you will click here and read it.

Additionally, in August, Eliza and OCA Volunteer, Alex Corbin, Esq. of McAndrews Law Offices, will present a CLE on advocating for your client in the educational setting.  Sign up for the training at the link below. Trust me, you do not want to miss out on their expertise!

OCA Volunteer Attorneys step up when we need it and this summer has been no different.  There are currently 636 children in DFS custody, and child attorney volunteers are representing 251 of those children as well as an additional 30 clients who have extended jurisdiction.  A majority of our new clients are teenagers, many of whom are close to turning 18.  This presents a lot of unique challenges as we struggle to ensure their needs are adequately met before they become "adults." I facilitated an advanced training in May regarding representation of teenage clients.  If you missed it, but would like the information, please feel free to reach out and I'd be happy to email you the presentation and other information provided. 

Thank you again for all of your hard work.


In April, Deputy Child Advocate, Molly Shaw, Esq., presented with Dr. Stephanie Deutsch at the Ray E. Helfer Society’s Annual Meeting for Child Abuse Pediatricians on Delaware’s novel De-Escalation of Life Support for Children in DSCYF Custody Protocol.  The presentation included a brief explanation of the background of the Delaware Supreme Court case Hunt vs. Division of Family Services, and why the a protocol was needed to flesh out the complexity of decision-making when decisions about de-escalation of care need to be made for children who are victims of abuse or neglect, or are otherwise in state custody.  While there is some theoretical guidance in the medical literature on how to approach such cases, there is little to no practical information.  Molly and Dr. Deutsch highlighted how Delaware's protocol fits into the larger legal framework in the U.S., with some states giving precedence to parents’ rights and others (like Delaware) recognizing that the child’s rights are paramount in certain circumstances.  

Advocating For Your Client's Education
Presented by: Eliza Hirst, Esq. & Alex Corbin, Esq.

Sign up here to learn about best practices in advocating for your client in the school setting and earn 1.5 CLE credits.

Wilmington: August 15th, 12-1:30pm
Dover: August 22nd, 12-1:30pm

Stephen Ferguson, Esq. is a partner in the litigation practice group at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Arnoff LLP.  Stephen has been an OCA volunteer since 2017 and is representing one boy, now age 8.  Stephen says he became a volunteer because it gave him the opportunity to help children in foster care.  His wife, Meredith, also served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer so her experience in that role encouraged him to volunteer.  During his two years of representing his child client, Stephen has been a zealous advocate to ensure his client's needs are met, and also shows interest in his client by being involved in his life -even attending a recognition ceremony where his client received an award.  Stephen says the best thing about representing children is being a part of the child's support team and seeing the positive growth in the child during the course of the representation. Thankfully his law firm is a supporter of pro bono work and allows attorneys to count their pro bono hours towards billable hour requirements!

Stephen lives in Wilmington with his wife, Meredith, and their one-year old daughter, Abigail.  
Copyright © 2019 Office of the child Advocate, All rights reserved.

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