Aged Out Program to benefit from Texas Bar Foundation Grant


Grant will fund the ongoing work on the Aged Out Program, and other efforts with aging/aged out foster youth.


DALLAS (SMU) – The Child Advocacy Clinic  at SMU’s Dedman School of Law was awarded a $12,500 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation to fund ongoing work on its Aged Out Program that provides legal services to North Texas youth who have aged out of foster care. This generous gift will also continue the support of a law fellow who provides legal services for aged out youth, conducts know your rights sessions for youth about to age out, and engages the community to learn more about and assist in meeting the legal needs of these youth. Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $21 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation's largest charitably-funded bar foundation.


“We are grateful for the Texas Bar Foundation’s generous support of the Aged Out Program,” said Jennifer Collins, Dean of SMU Dedman School of Law. “Too often, children in foster care reach the age of adulthood with little or no preparation for independent living and lack family support. This grant will support efforts to help these young adults with guidance and often representation regarding their legal rights and access to services.”


The Child Advocacy Clinic, launched in 2001, educates law students in a hands-on clinical education setting to provide representation to children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect. Over the life of the Clinic, student lawyers have represented more than 225 child clients from ages one day to 18 years old. “The work of the Clinic – and all of those with whom we have collaborated – is incredibly important to serving the needs of abused and neglected children, said Diane Sumoski, Director of the Child Advocacy Clinic. “However, youth rarely leave the system immediately ready to be productive, successful, and independent adults, and they often have legal issues that follow them from foster care further complicating their emancipation.”


Youth in foster care usually have a lack of consistent family guidance, disrupted placements, traumatic events during childhood, and a lack of financial resources. Therefore, it is not surprising that a youth emancipated from the system who is a mere 18-21 years old is not fully prepared to establish housing, pursue higher education and training, secure sustainable employment, obtain health insurance, and navigate legal disputes or problems. “Small legal issues can snowball quickly into large problems,” said Professor Sumoski. “We are grateful to the Texas Bar Foundation for the funding of this program to support these youth.”



SMU Dedman School of Law was founded in 1925. With more than 17,000 alumni from more than 80 countries, it enjoys a national and international reputation of distinction. SMU Dedman School of Law is known for its academic rigor, as well as its excellent record in preparing students to practice in prestigious law firms, major corporations, and public service organizations. The faculty excel in their public engagement efforts, groundbreaking scholarship, innovative teaching, and international impact. The law school boasts eleven legal clinics and three academic centers with programs making an impact in the community and nationwide. SMU Dedman School of Law ranks as a top law school by National Jurist/preLaw in Business Law, Criminal Law, Family Law, Intellectual Property Law, Tax Law, and Human Rights Law. It is ranked #30 by National Law Journal/ for the having the highest percentage of 2019 graduates in associate jobs and #20 for the highest percentage of 2019 graduates promoted to partner at the nation’s 100 largest law firms.  It also has one of the country’s oldest LL.M. programs for graduates of foreign law schools, a program initially launched in 1949.


The Texas Bar Foundation solicits charitable contributions and provides funding to enhance the rule of law and the system of justice in Texas, especially for programs that relate to the administration of justice; ethics in the legal profession; legal assistance for the needy; the encouragement of legal research, publications and forums; and the education of the public.