Harriett Buhai Center Receives Innovative Program Award

The Harriett Buhai Center, one of the largest non-profit organizations providing family law services in the state of California, was honored by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (“AFCC”) for its trailblazing efforts. The AFCC, an interdisciplinary association of lawyers and mental health professionals dedicated to resolving family conflict, presented the Harriett Buhai Center with its Irwin Cantor Innovative Program award on May 31, 2013 at its annual conference in Los Angeles. Executive Director, Betty Nordwind (pictured left with AFCC President, Dr. Arnold T Shienvold, Ph.D.), accepted the award on behalf of the Center. Over the last 30 years, the Center has pioneered many cutting-edge programs, including self-help assistance, domestic violence shelter partnership, and legal services to low-income community college students and formerly incarcerated mothers, and was pleased to be recognized by the AFCC.

The AFCC conference offered many educational sessions, including one hosted by Buhai Center Staff Attorney Meredith Alexander, former Staff Attorney Katie Ojeda Stewart, and psychologist Dr. Ian Russ (a valued Center volunteer), who gave an insightful presentation about the impact of incarceration on families. They articulated why fostering a relationship between mother and child during and after incarceration can have positive effects, including reducing recidivism. Members of the audience were actively engaged in their thoughtful program. The Center is one of the only non-profit family law organizations in the United States offering providing regular assistance to parents released from jail or prison to help them reunite and maintain relationships with their children.

In another session, Ms. Nordwind was invited by the AFCC to sit on a plenary panel of mental health, judicial and legal leaders to discuss the future of the family court. She offered the perspective of a non-profit legal services provider and spoke about the allocation of resources as the Center has matured as an organization. Her presentation discussed the Center’s early, broad spectrum work through its self-help program and the Center’s contemporary, more targeted work with individuals and families possessing the greatest need for legal assistance that other government and non-profit programs cannot meet.