The American family is in the midst of a far reaching transition. The past generation has witnessed dramatic increases in out-of-wedlock births, divorce, remarriage, and family violence, together with significant changes in women's family and work roles. These major changes in society's core institution pose challenges, opportunities, and risks for children, yet our society has responded with fragmented research, policy, and family intervention.
The faculty at the University of Virginia includes some of the most distinguished experts on children, families, and the law in the country. The multidisciplinary Center for Children, Families, and the Law was created to focus and coordinate our efforts in addressing these pressing family problems. Recognizing both the talent of the family faculty and the benefits of promoting multidisciplinary collaboration, in June 1996 the Board of Visitors of the University awarded the Center a grant from its Academic Enhancement Program (moneys designed to enhance strengths within the university) to 25 faculty members to form the Center. The Center includes members of the departments of psychology, sociology, economics, and government as well as the law school and education school.
The Center offers seed grants to faculty members and graduate students, supports special graduate research fellowships, offers the Doris Buffett Fellowships for practicum work in the area of family violence, sponsors a multidisciplinary research seminar, hosts and annual conference on family issues, cosponsors a speaker series with relevant departments, and engages in various other initiatives to encourage multidisciplinary research on families.
The mission of the Center for Children, Families and the Law is to:
- Promote multidisciplinary research that will enrich the scientific understanding of family life, lead to direct implications for family policy, and strengthen the skills and training of faculty and graduate students from diverse fields
- Improve education through research initiatives, conferences and speaking engagements that bring distinguished experts to the University, and increasing awareness of family strengths and struggles
- Provide public service through the Buffett Fellowships, by bringing academics and practitioners together in the annual conference, and by conducting research and analysis with a constant awareness of the implication for law and policy