SARAH E. SCHOOLEY, Margaret Winchester Child Welfare Award

SARAH E. SCHOOLEY, Margaret Winchester Child Welfare Award.  The Margaret Winchester Child Welfare Advocacy Award honors a staff member or a private attorney who, through his or her zealous advocacy and extraordinary commitment to children and parents in care and protection and other Massachusetts child welfare cases, is a model for other advocates seeking to protect the rights of children and parents.

Since 1990, Sarah Schooley has been providing high-quality representation to parents and children in termination of parental rights and other cases in which the state has intervened in the lives of families.  She has also represented CPCS clients in criminal, delinquency, and youthful offender cases.  Preparation, professionalism, and a commitment to her clients have been a hallmark of her outstanding work as a CPCS attorney.

Sarah has also played a critical role in promoting zealous advocacy by other CPCS lawyers.  Beginning in 2005, Sarah has served as a mentor to new CAFL lawyers in Western Massachusetts.  In addition, from 2008 until the present, Sarah has led the CAFL bar in Franklin and Hampshire Counties as the CAFL Regional Coordinator and the CAFL Resource Attorney.  In each of these roles, Sarah has helped other lawyers learn the skills and develop the connections with clients that are needed to provide the kind of advocacy that she herself provides.  This has been particularly important over the last few years, as the massive increase in the number of DCF cases has resulted in a large number of new CAFL attorneys practicing in her counties.

Sarah’s commitment to CPCS’s mission extends beyond improving representation in Franklin-Hampshire Juvenile Court.  She regularly assists with statewide training, and is currently working on a new practice manual chapter on the critical work that lawyers do immediately after DCF separates children from their parents.  Sarah has also trained non-lawyers to work as volunteers in CAFL cases and taught non-violent conflict resolution to high school students.