The first of its kind in the nation, the Law and Social Work Services Program has garnered national recognition as a pioneering, quality program. Since its inception the Program has trained more than 100 graduate social work students and provided pro-bono services to no less than 500 needy individuals and families.
The main goals of the program are (1) to provide quality social work services to indigent clients receiving pro-bono legal services through the Clinical Law Program Office; (2) to provide experiential education to graduate social work interns interested in forensic social work; and (3) to foster interdisciplinary collaboration between future social workers and attorneys.
Essentially a "clinic within a clinic", the Law and Social Work Services Program maintains offices and see clients within the University of Maryland School of Law Clinical Law Offices. The Program operates on an integrated service model that identifies clients of the Law School Clinical Law Program who need social work services, and is headed by a faculty field instructor from the Social Work School, under the auspices of the Social Work Community Outreach Service. Clients in need of case management and referral services are referred to the social work students by lawyers and faculty members who practice in the Law Clinic.
Forty individuals and families were served over the last academic year. They have ranged in age from 3-79, and five individuals are over the age of 60 years. Twenty percent of the clients were homelessness or residing in substandard housing at the time of referral. Over half of the individuals served are HIV+ and 40% are diagnosed with mental health problems. Females account for 70% of the clients served, and nearly three quarters are African-American. Most clients have legal issues in the civil arena, but approximately a quarter are being represented in juvenile justice or adult criminal matters. Services provided by social workers include but are not limited to: case management, linkage to treatment resources, housing, employment and entitlements, individual and family counseling, mitigation and jail diversion.