Capstone Courses and Projects

The Legal Aid Society

A Study of the New York Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Offender Team
The Juvenile Offender Team (JO Team) at Legal Aid was created in 1996 to help address the needs of the 13-15 year-olds prosecuted in the adult court system in New York County. The Capstone team was brought on board to document the JO Team’s ability to represent and provide appropriate and specialized service for the juvenile offenders (JOs) they serve. Through an examination of the activities of the JO program staff, key informant interviews, and an extensive review of case files, the Capstone members assessed the strengths of the JO Team and offered recommendations for improvement. The Capstone members found that the social workers on the JO Team serve an important purpose by helping the JO Team lawyers demonstrate that their clients deserve a second chance and thus should be sentenced to an Alternative to Incarceration as opposed to prison. The JO Team’s specialized and holistic approach and experience helps ensure that the JOs they represent receive services necessary to meet individual needs.

The Legal Aid Society of New York, Katherine A. McDonald Education Advocacy Project

Process Evaluation and Strategic Analysis of the Education Advocacy Project
The Katherine A. McDonald Education Advocacy Project (EAP) was founded as an initiative of the Juvenile Rights Division at the Legal Aid Society of New York in order to provide early intervention and special education advocacy for disabled and developmentally delayed foster care children in New York City. The Capstone team conducted a qualitative process evaluation and strategic analysis in order to assess the programmatic and fiscal sustainability of the EAP. Through comprehensive internal, environmental, and competitor analyses, the team found that the EAP fills a gap between the Department of Education and the Administration for Children’s Services by obtaining legally entitled appropriate education and related services for children in foster care. The team’s recommendations address the found strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for the EAP in order to position the project more effectively to funders.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York

Setting the Tone: Creating Uniformity in Policy and Procedures for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York
Under the anticipated consolidation of the entity known broadly as Catholic Charities of New York, more than 44 different social service sites will be brought together under one set of policies and procedures. After speaking with department directors for human resources, information technology, and volunteers, the Capstone team created a comprehensive manual clearly stating the policies and procedures regarding hiring, worktime, information technology, volunteers, and employee relations. Prior to the team’s work, there were no formalized, written policies within Catholic Charities. The manual contains best practices/recommendations for each topic section, building on the skill set the team learned at Wagner and from team members’ experiences.

ACT* (Action by Congregations Together) for Children

The Role of Brooklyn Congregations in Providing Social Services to Children
ACT* (Action by Congregations Together) for Children is a Brooklyn-based grassroots organization that seeks to mobilize congregations from all faiths to become advocates for children’s issues. The Capstone team researched the needs of Brooklyn children in the areas of health, education, and juvenile crime and surveyed congregations regarding direct services they provide to children in these areas. The team also conducted interviews with stakeholders (e.g., funders, clergy, and participants) in congregation-provided social services, as well as with city and state policymakers. The team’s findings indicate that while there is support for the role faith-based organizations play in social service provision, a lack of resources prevent many congregations from providing such services.