Host Organisation: Children’s Legal Centre Wales

Elisa Jenkins

Elisa spent her early years in the care system before being adopted. This experience has given her an insight into the difficulties that many care-experienced children face daily. This has been enhanced as Elisa has undertaken numerous volunteering roles with children, for example, in schools working with children with special educational needs. She has also gained work experience with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales. All of this confirmed her interest in children’s’ rights.

Elisa studied law at the University of Reading. While at University Elisa undertook a BSL, Family law and International Children’s Rights module which further underpinned her interest in a career in Children’s Rights advocacy. As an undergraduate Elisa wrote her dissertation on Adoption and Children’s Rights. This led her to identify numerous topics for further research and examination, and areas for change, which increased her desire to work for change to improve children’s lives.

After completing her undergraduate studies, Elisa studied for the Legal Practice Course and LLM in Legal Drafting at Swansea University. During this time, she secured a summer internship with the Children’s Legal Centre Wales. This experience led her to apply for the LEF Justice First Fellowship based at the Legal Centre.

Project – A specialist SEN Clinic for Wales: Examining need, options and sustainability

A number of recent developments in the Wales suggest the need for specialist services to improve the availability of legal advice in key areas. Wales has been described as an 'advice desert' when it comes to children's rights. A number of recommendations by the Commission on Justice in Wales were aimed at improving advice services, in particular to take account of the developing legal framework in the fields of social welfare and human rights. The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 law will establish new rights and new structures to ensure that children with additional learning needs receive their right to education.

This project will examine the emerging legal framework focused on children with additional educational needs in Wales. It will identify areas where specialist advice may be required, including through a survey of need with stakeholder communities. It will examine options for delivery which maximise resources, including human resources. The aim of the project will be to develop a proposal for a specialist advice clinic to align with the objectives of the Children's Legal Centre (CLC) and fit within the delivery structures of Swansea University Law Clinic, with a particular focus on accessibility, complementarity (with other services) and sustainability. The Fellow will work with the CLC and Law Clinic to pilot a specialist clinic, and so a further aim of the project will be a small-scale evaluation of the pilot.

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