Lori Thompson and Andrea Bynum have very different backgrounds. Lori has a Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University and experience in family, patent, and criminal law. Andrea‚Äôs background includes years of mentoring emotionally troubled teens and promoting leadership skills.
What do they have in common? Their internship- a pilot program through the Administrative Office of the Courts to provide social work consultation in child welfare cases. The program was recently created between UALR‚Äôs School of Social Work and the Administrative Office of the Courts, and internships were always part of the plan. It builds on the State‚Äôs Attorney Ad Litem (AAL) and Parent Counsel Program, adding a multidisciplinary element in representing children and families in abuse and neglect cases.
Nickie Galloway, LCSW, heads the program and serves as the students‚Äô field instructor. ‚ÄúWe want to improve representation of children and families in the court,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúThere are cultural, cognitive, and family situations that keep some people from understanding the case and how to work with the Division of Children and Family Services and the courts.‚ÄĚ Attorneys refer complex cases and ask for recommendations or consultation regarding cultural issues, mental health diagnoses,
treatment options, and placement options. She and the students meet with families to ensure they have a clear understanding and a fair voice. They also consult with attorneys, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), and DHS Case Managers to ensure that everyone is seeing the whole picture.
This blending of different social work roles excites Lori and Andrea. Andrea describes a dynamic educational experience. ‚ÄúIt allows for multiple opportunities that encourage learning and professional growth,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúI enjoy applying what was learned in class to cases.‚ÄĚ Andrea is using this experience to add breadth and momentum to her career focus on youth and families. Lori is getting the most of her experience too. ‚ÄúI get to see the policy side of it, the legislative – all sides of it – not just the clinical side. I get to see it all come together,‚ÄĚ she says. It‚Äôs a bridge between her experience in law and her goals in social work.‚ÄúI‚Äôll come home at night and watch the news and I‚Äôll see where I spent my day at my internship. I was right in the middle of child policy, where the hot issues are. That‚Äôs pretty big to me.‚ÄĚ