Children & Youth Law Clinic Associate Director Named Outstanding Child Advocate

The statewide advocacy organization Florida’s Children First presented Children & Youth Law Clinic Associate Director Robert Latham with their “Outstanding Child Advocate” award at their recent Advocates for Children Awards and 20th Anniversary Celebration.
Children & Youth Law Clinic Associate Director Named Outstanding Child Advocate
Robert Latham

The statewide advocacy organization Florida’s Children First presented Children & Youth Law Clinic Associate Director Robert Latham with their “Outstanding Child Advocate” award at their recent Advocates for Children Awards and 20th Anniversary Celebration.

The event recognized Miami-Dade’s outstanding advocates for children. It celebrated the accomplishments of passionate community leaders who support the mission of Florida’s Children First in making systemic changes that positively impact the lives of disabled, disadvantaged, and homeless youth and those in foster care.

“This award is so well-deserved. Robert is a tremendous asset to the law school and our child welfare advocacy community. “He is a very talented lawyer who models zealous representation and strong client relationships for his students. Everyone in the courtroom respects his advocacy even if they are on opposite sides of an issue,” said Professor Kele Stewart, co-director of the CYLC. “With our clinic’s policy work, he brings such sophisticated and creative analysis that he is a go-to expert and resource for advocates, policymakers, and the media statewide and nationally,” she added.

Latham is a clinical instructor and practitioner-in-residence at the clinic. He teaches students who handle cases involving abused, abandoned, and neglected children in various forums, including dependency and family courts, administrative hearings, and federal appellate courts. In addition to his individual advocacy, Latham engages in numerous high-profile law reform campaigns that contribute to improving the child welfare system.

“Robert is known for being a fierce advocate for his clients making sure his clients always have a voice and feel seen and heard during a process that is often scary and confusing for our foster youth,” said Katherine Zubizaretta, J.D. ’11 and former CYLC intern, who is now the managing attorney for Circuits 11 and 16 at the Florida Department of Children and Families. “When Robert is on a case, you can rest assured that his client is going to be heard on the important decisions being made that are going to affect their lives. I have always appreciated knowing our foster youth will have a strong voice when Robert is their attorney ad litem.”

Latham has published multiple reports and other publications, testifies before the Florida state legislature, routinely conducts CLE trainings, created a blog referenced by others in the field, serves as the mentor to a legislative advocacy group of former foster youth, and is widely cited in the national media on child welfare issues.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Latham built an interactive website mapping the placements of every single child who passed through Florida’s Department of Children and Families since 2002. He continues to analyze data and report on his findings and provides commentary and analysis of trends in the foster care system on his informative blog.

Before joining the clinic, Latham was a senior program attorney at the Guardian ad Litem Program. He studied computer science and linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin and graduated from the University of Michigan Law School.

“The Children & Youth Law Clinic has been very fortunate to have a teacher, colleague, and child advocate with Robert’s unique combination of skill sets in legal advocacy and data analysis,” said Bernard Perlmutter, professor of law and co-director of the clinic. “Our students and clients have greatly benefited from his teaching and advocacy, and his explanations of how foster care systems operate, informed by his innovative marshalling of data, have influenced positive systems changes over his past 11 years in the clinic,” he added.

Florida’s Children First, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the rights of at-risk children and youth. The organization seeks full representation of children and youth and meaningful and sustainable improvement in Florida’s child-serving systems using a range of strategies, including public policy development, ongoing training, technical assistance, and strategic litigation.

“I am tremendously honored to receive this recognition from an organization that has done more than any other in Florida to center children in legal representation and improve the legal rights of foster youth,” said Latham.

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