Recent Seminars

Dallas Bar Association 8th Annual Child Welfare Conference

Diane Sumoski, the Clinic Director, spoke along with Delia Gonzales, J.D. at the DBA’s annual day-long child welfare conference.  Their presentation was entitled “How to Be and Effective Parent’s Attorney and GAL/AAL.”  The presentation was constructed in a point-counterpoint manner with Ms. Sumoski addressing how a guardian and attorney ad litem for the child should view and approach an issue while Ms. Gonzalez discussed the same issue from the perspective of the parent’s attorney.

Texas Supreme Court Children’s Commission Trial Skills Training 

The Director was honored to be invited to participate as guest instructor at this semi-annual Trial Skills Training Course sponsored by the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth, and Families.  The Children’s Commission holds this intensive training to improve the courtroom skills of lawyers practicing child welfare law.  Lawyers must apply to participate and only fifteen are chosen to take part.  The training took place on May 9 and 10, 2017 and included lawyers from across the state of Texas.

Implementation of the Transportation Provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act

This was the third presentation in the Lunch and Learn series established by the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Institute for Children’s Rights and a follow on presentation regarding the ESSA with the experience of a few months of the law being in effective operation.  The program took place on April 17, 2017 at the headquarters of Friends of Wednesday’s Child.  Speakers included Rhonda Rieken, JD (Assistant Public Defender for the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office-Child Welfare Division), Norma Eaves, MSW (CPS Regional Education Specialist for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services), Donna Knight (Student/Family Services Coordinator for Red Oak I.S.D.), and Diane Sumoski J.D. (Director of the Caruth Clinic and Caruth Institute).

PAL Benefits, Education Options, and Resources for Foster Kids “Aging Out”

This was the second presentation in the Lunch and Learn series initiated by the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Institute for Children’s Rights.  It explored the law, policy, and practicalities of the assistance that is available for high school-aged foster kids as they prepare to move on from high school and out of the foster care system.  It was held on March 27, 2017 at Dallas CASA.  Along with the Clinic/Institute Director, Diane Sumoski, presenters were Kathleen Bushe, MSSW, LMSW (Case Management Supervisor with CitySquare- Transition Resource Access Center), Carla Cleeton, MSW (Residential Services Manager HUD Housing Program with CitySquare Transition Resource Action Center), and Rebecca Daniel (PAL Supervisor at the Department of Family and Protective Services).

Dallas CASA Supervisors Meeting

The Clinic Director was pleased to be invited to speak at a monthly meeting of the Dallas CASA supervisors on January 25, 2017.  In addition to updating the supervisors regarding the Clinic and Institute, the Director provided substantive information to assist CASAs in grappling with the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Implementation of the Transportation Provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act

On January 5, 2017, the Director assisted in organizing and presenting the Caruth Institute for Children’s Rights first presentation in the its new Lunch and Learn series.  The session was held at ESC Region 10’s conference center, and a variety of child welfare stakeholders, including many educators, attended.  The ESSA had recently become effective in law and stakeholders were very interested in exploring its application to their work for foster kids.  Speakers included Kristen Bell, J.D. (Texas Lawyers for Children), Kristine Mohajer (Education Program Specialist with the Department of Family and Protective Services in Austin), and Donna Knight (Student and Family Services Coordinator with the Red Oak Independent School District).

Texas Lawyers For Children Champions for Children Luncheon

On December 2, 2016, the Director participated in the TLC annual luncheon which provided education regarding child welfare issues, in particular, regarding the federal class action to change the Texas child welfare system.  The Director was grateful to have the opportunity to discuss the Kinship Custody program and other pro bono efforts for attendees to access to help children in the child welfare system.  Approximately 80 child welfare stakeholders were in attendance at this event.

Kinship Custody Program Training 

In October 2016, the Clinic conducted a three and one half hour MCLE program at the Dallas Bar Association to train attorneys to represent relatives and other non-parents of children who already have children in their care, but do not have legal custody.  

The Clinic has teamed up with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program to train and mentor attorneys to provide pro bono services in this vital area.   Trained attorneys will be part of a pool of attorneys who, through DVAP, will represent relatives or close friends of children seeking legal custody of children already living under their care.

This training was the third one for the program.  The attorneys who attended the training did so with the understanding that the training was free if they would accept a kinship custody case on a pro bono basis.  The training covered the basic steps to file a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship and included a segment on the ethical responsibilities of attorneys when they are involved in cases relating to children.

Along with the Clinic Director, Diane Sumoski, presenters included Chante Prox (Director of SMU’s VanSickle Family Law Clinic), Liz Porter (shareholder with Koons Fuller, PC),  Kamesha Hughes (Program Director, AR/Investigations, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services), the Honorable Tena Callahan (Judge 302nd District Court),  and Kristen Salas (mentor attorney, Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program).

Education Advocacy for Children in the Child Welfare System:  A Symposium and Community Conversation

 This day-long Symposium, with a keynote presentation on the evening prior to it is discussed at greater length on the webpage of the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Institute for Children’s Rights. At least 123 child welfare professionals attended the Symposium that was held at the SMU Dedman School of Law on August 11-12, 2016.

Dallas Bar Association 7th Annual Child Welfare Conference

The Director assisted in the overall planning of the Dallas Bar Association’s Juvenile Justice Committee’s Child Welfare Conference that took place on May 12, 2016.  The Director planned and moderated a program in a Q&A format with David Dodd whose law firm, Haynes & Boone, represents a class of foster children in a ground-breaking federal class action.  The program was entitled,M.D.; bnf Stukenberg v. Abbott:  The Federal Class Action to Reform DFPS Practices.”