UMKC Child and Family Services Clinic Helps More Than 1,000 Children

School of Law clinic provides valuable experience while helping community children
Statue outside of law building, with text: UMKC School of Law Child and Family Services Clinic

Family legal issues are one of the largest unmet needs in the state of Missouri and in Jackson County. The UMKC School of Law has helped to fill that gap since the opening of its Child and Family Services Clinic in 2000. Since then, the clinic has helped more than 1,000 children be placed in permanent homes.

Clinic director Wendy Ross, J.D., joined UMKC just one year ago but has already been impressed with the impact the clinic has made.

“UMKC has a heart for providing for the community,” Ross said. “They want to reach out and help, all while providing valuable experience for our law students.”

Under the guidance of professors, work in the clinic is done by students studying family law. Services can include representation in court, paperwork to establish guardianship and more. Students at the clinic provide an average of 2,000 hours of service a year, all free of charge to the families.

“This important service to our community is why we chose to highlight the UMKC School of Law Child and Family Services Clinic in a video,” said Curt Crespino, vice chancellor of UMKC External Relations and Constituent Engagement. “The pro bono legal services changed the life of Brittney Hallman’s family and so many others in the Kansas City region.”

Brittney's story and her experience with the clinic were featured in a story on KSHB 41.

The most common service provided is establishing legal guardianship of children, often to the father or grandparents. Without legal guardianship, a caregiver does not have the authority to properly care for a child, including to enroll them in school or make medical decisions.

The clinic serves parents and families who qualify at or under the national poverty guidelines. Services are provided pro bono, allowing people who may not be able to afford a lawyer help navigating the legal system. Clients can be referred to the clinic through family court, nonprofit agencies and other organizations, as well as through direct application. For more information and to have a case considered, call the clinic at 816-235-6336 and complete an intake form over the phone.

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Published: May 14, 2024

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