Spotlight on the Foster System Webinar Series

December 9, 2020 at 11:00 am - 12:30 pm CST


Creating the conditions in which families and communities can thrive means keeping families together and reimagining what support looks like, how harm and accountability are understood and addressed, and who should be leading the way forward.  

Black communities, communities of color, and those living in poverty are overrepresented in many systems, including the foster system, that claim to support and protect.

Join the Shriver Center for the Spotlight on the Foster System webinar series that will explore the history and current state of the system, how the system interacts with other systems, where the system fits into the intersectional movement for racial justice, and the path forward in advocacy for parents and families impacted by this system.

Webinar #1 — Moving from Why to How: Parent Leaders’ Perspectives on the Movement for Child Welfare Justice
Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Time: 11am cst – 12:30pm cst
Watch a recording of the first webinar in our series. 

Webinar #2 — Policing by Another Name: Mandated Reporting as State Surveillance
Date: Friday, November 13, 2020
Time: 11am cst – 12:30pm cst
Watch a recording of the second webinar in our series.

Webinar #3 — The Carceral Web: How the Foster and Criminal Legal Systems Perpetuate Injustice
Date: Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Time: 11am cst – 12:30pm cst


  • Victoria Copeland, MSW, UCLA Ph.D Student – Victoria Copeland is a doctoral student at the University of California Los Angeles. Prior to attending UCLA she worked as a youth advocate, assisting youth who were dually-impacted by the juvenile justice and “child welfare” systems. She is currently employed with the UCLA Labor Center as policy researcher, conducting research to help dismantle fines, fees, and forced labor through the criminal injustice system. Along with her work at the Labor Center, Victoria assists in local organizing efforts to abolish the “child welfare” system and prison industrial complex. Her doctoral research interrogates the role of family policing within the broader carceral ecosystem, focusing on uses of surveillance and data-proliferation under the guise of “Child Protection”.
  • Dinah Ortiz-Adames – Dinah Ortiz-Adames is an Afrolatinx community activist who has fought for over 13 years for Black and Brown people. She is a harm reductionist who has no issues sharing her story of past substance use and she is a fierce advocate for parents in the child welfare system. She has worked for several non-profit organizations and developed advocacy skills along the way. From working with formerly incarcerated women, to women with a history of domestic violence; Ms. Ortiz-Adames has tried to give a voice to the unheard by  participating in various platforms speaking out on issues affecting parents particularly mothers targeted due to substance use disorder.
  • Jeremy Lemmons, Assistant Public Defender, Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender – Jeremy Lemmons is an alum of the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), with a major is Sociology and minors in Political Science and Gender and Women Studies. He obtained his J.D. from John Marshall Law School in Chicago, IL. After completing law school, Jeremy worked for the City of Chicago Corporation Council and subsequently for the Office of the State Appellate Defender. In 2018, he was hired at the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender where he has worked in the Civil Division also known as Child Protection. He is currently assigned to a Specialized Unit that deals mainly with medically complex cases and cases with complex legal issues. Jeremy was recently nominated to a sub committee that explores the understanding and application of reasonable efforts and urgent and immediate necessity throughout Illinois.
  • Leah Gasser-Ordaz, Juvenile Justice Fellow, UCLA School of Law – Leah Gasser-Ordaz is a Juvenile Justice Fellow with the Criminal Justice Program at UCLA School of Law, working on an initiative focused on advancing the interests of justice-involved youth with grant support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Liberty Hill Foundation. Her research, in partnership with the Los Angeles County Division of Youth Diversion and Development, is centered on diversion programs, restorative justice, and other alternatives to juvenile court and incarceration. Additionally, Leah works with local, regional, and national organizations to divest from and build alternatives to the family regulation system. Previously, Leah was a Staff Attorney with Public Counsel’s Transition Age Youth Project, where she worked with system involved youth to secure and maintain housing and benefits; remove criminal and legal barriers; advocate for the parental rights of pregnant and parenting youth; and provide other civil legal support on a multidisciplinary team including peer advocates and social workers. Leah received her J.D. from UC Irvine School of Law and her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Philosophy from UCLA.


  • Patrice James, Director of Community Justice at the Shriver Center – Patrice James has spent her career tackling the inequities of the criminal justice system. Most recently she was a founding attorney of Still She Rises, Tulsa, where she provided holistic legal representation primarily to low-income women of color, engaged in community building, and advocated for shifting the narrative of women involved in the criminal justice system “from broken women to broken systems” as the Director of External Relations. While in Tulsa, Patrice immersed herself in the needs of north Tulsa by volunteering with various organizations and serving on several boards, including the Met Cares Foundation and the Greater Tulsa African American Affairs Commission. Prior to Tulsa, Patrice was a public defender at the Bronx Defenders for five years, where she provided zealous criminal defense representation to people living in the Bronx. Understanding the value of community, Patrice lead the office’s mentoring program for incoming attorneys and provided “Know Your Rights” trainings for students at local middle and high schools.

Webinar #4 — Intersection: Health and the Foster System
Date: Thursday, January 14, 2021
Time: 11am cst – 12:30pm cst

To receive the latest news and information from the Shriver Center