Juvenile Rights Practice Honors Vanessa Cherena, Books for Kids and the Caseload Study Team
MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2008

Vanessa Cherena, a Supervising Attorney in the Bronx Office of the Juvenile Rights Practice, was presented the Charles Schinitsky Award for outstanding service to clients of the Society, during the JRP annual awards ceremony and special reception on March 31, 2008, hosted by Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP. Books For Kids received the first SOuL Award (Stepping Out of Line) for thinking outside the box and creating a program in which JRP clients not only find respite but also are engaged in improving their literacy. The third award went to the Caseload Study Team for their extraordinary commitment to ensuring the client case cap law results in a number that will significantly impact the work we are able to do for our clients. After legislation was signed into law that requires OCA to set a standard for the maximum number of children a law guardian may represent at one time, a special JRP study team was formed to assist the Office of Court Administration in a workload study to determine the proper number.

Mr. Schinitsky was a Legal Aid attorney who conducted a landmark study under the auspices of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York which led in 1962 to the creation of the Family Court system in New York City and the establishment of the Juvenile Rights Practice to represent children who come before the Family Court. Mr. Schinitsky was the first Attorney-in-Charge of the new Practice. The Society was representing children five years before the U.S. Supreme Court mandated such representation in 1967 in the In Re: Gault decision. The Books For Kids Project, which was created by JRP social workers in Manhattan, provides books in the JRP offices and Family Court offices throughout the City for children who are awaiting their court cases or are visiting JRP offices. The first Books For Kids project started in Manhattan JRP where a small closet was transformed into a magical book room for young clients to enjoy books and even take them home. The New York Times ran a story about the project in 2006. Children’s books- new or used- can be donated to Books For Kids at any JRP office or at JRP Administration at 199 Water Street.

The members of the Caseload Study Team included: Brian Lamb, Renee Mittler, Kim Forte, Louis Sartori, Amy Serlin, Dawn Post, Robyn Karaysk, Amy Albert, Karen Simmons, Vicki Light, Jon Roman, Dawn Mitchell, Amanda White, Maria Baldridge, Emily Kaplan, Carol Hochberg and Kim McLaurin.

To see more photos from this event, please click here.