Shari F. Shink left her Pennsylvania home in 1981 for Colorado, where a temporary assignment and an encounter with a 2-year old boy led to a life committed to abused and neglected children. She established the Children’s Legal Clinic in 1985 that became the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, the first non-profit law firm for abused/neglected children, transforming the lives of over 15,000 children.
Shink has made significant, enduring contributions through legislative reforms, program innovations, standards/training, and establishing a model office for addressing child abuse. Legislative reforms she promoted include: speedy trial for abused/neglected children; the importance of psychological attachments for children who resided for years with foster parents, the importance of sibling relationships, and the Child Protection Ombudsman.
Shink has introduced program innovations including Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, the Prevention Partnership Program that keeps children out of foster care, and Dandelion, a therapeutic gardening program. She initiated the development of standards for lawyers representing children which later led to Chief Justice directives by the Colorado Supreme Court, mandating that attorneys meet their child clients, appear in court fully prepared and knowledgeable about the needs and best interests of their clients.
Shink has impacted the national approach to child advocacy through hundreds of publications and speaking engagements in numerous states and many foreign countries. She has co-chaired the Children’s Rights Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association, a national committee to promote the rights and needs of children in juvenile courts in the nation. She participated as a member of the host committee that planned and executed the first International Summit on Street Children, in London, England.
She has been lauded by a Colorado Supreme Court Justice for “inspiring action at every level of society,” and a Colorado State Senator for her expertise and bravery. Shink has received numerous awards including ABA Child Advocate of the Year (2001), the National Lewis Hine Award for service to children and youth (2004), and named as national Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation (2013). Yet she is inspired most by the individual children whose lives she changed.
CPR interview link: Shari Shink Interview with CPR