Faculty Profiles

Melissa D. Carter

Melissa D. Carter

Clinical Professor of Law

Areas of Expertise

Child Advocacy, Children's Rights

Curriculum Vitae

Melissa Carter is the executive director of the Barton Child Law and Policy Center. Her work focuses on the legal rights and interests of children and youth involved with the juvenile court, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems. She has represented the interests of abused, neglected, and court-involved children in policy and legislative matters at the local, state, and federal levels, contributing to the drafting and passage of dozens of pieces of legislation, and in litigation through amicus curiae briefs submitted to the Supreme Court of Georgia and Georgia Court of Appeals. She is a frequent presenter on topics of juvenile law, has testified before several legislative and administrative bodies, and her work is covered extensively by the media.

Carter earned both a BS in psychology, summa cum laude, and a JD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since law school, Professor Carter has served in various child law and policy positions, including a gubernatorial appointment as the state’s child welfare system ombudsman.

At Emory, Carter has led efforts to rewrite the state’s Juvenile Code, educated judges on various juvenile law and systemic reform issues, and advised state officials on the administration of psychotropic medications to children in foster care. She has also been appointed to statewide taskforces charged with making recommendations for improvements to the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

In addition to this work, Carter has given lectures and presentations on a wide variety of juvenile law issues around the country. She serves as a member of the board of several child advocacy nonprofit organizations, including Voices for Georgia’s Children, and sits on the advisory committee of the Supreme Court of Georgia Committee on Justice for Children. Carter directs the Barton Center’s public policy and legislative advocacy clinics and teaches Child Welfare Law and Policy.

Education: JD and BA, Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Journal Articles

"Medicating Trauma: Improving Prescription Oversight of Children in Foster Care," 46 Clearinghouse Review Journal of Poverty Law and Policy 9-10, 398 (2013).

“Questions to Ask from the Bench: A Judicial Guide to Implementing Fostering Connections in Georgia,” Supreme Court of Georgia Committee on Justice for Children (2012).

“Georgia Psychotropic Medication Monitoring Project,” Barton Child Law & Policy Center (2012).

"The Next Generation of Child Advocacy," 13 Georgia Bar Law Journal 1, 22 (2007) (with The Honrable Steven C. Teske).


"Privatizing is Not a Proven Reform Plan," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Feb. 20, 2014 (with Andrew Barclay).

"Another View," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nov. 3, 2013.


"Deconstructing the School to Prison Pipeline," Georgia System of Care Conference, Stone Mountain, GA, June 2014.

"Assessing Your State’s Compliance with CAPTA," Facilitator, National Citizen Review Panel Conference, Atlanta, GA, May 2014.

"From Recommendations to Legislation: Tips for Advocacy," National Citizen Review Panel Conference, Atlanta, GA, May 2014.

"The State of Child Welfare in Georgia: Understanding the Opportunities and Challenges"

  • Child Welfare Reform Council, Atlanta, GA, May 2014
  • Juvenile Court Judges Spring Seminar, Jekyll Island, GA, May 2014
  • University of Georgia, March 2014
  • Georgia Grantmakers Alliance Meeting, Atlanta, GA, March 2014.

"Juggling the Interests of Child Representation," Juvenile Court Judges Spring Seminar, Jekyll Island, GA, May 2014.

"The Debate Over Privatizing Child Welfare Services," Georgia Association of DFCS Boards, Macon, GA, March 2014.

"Child Deaths & Serious Injuries Resulting from Child Maltreatment," Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocates Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, March 2014.

"Legislative Advocacy 101," Emory Center for Injury Control Advocacy Training, Atlanta, GA, February 2014.

"Status Report: Implementation of the New Juvenile Code," Georgia Court Improvement Initiative, Covington, GA, February 2014.

"Redaction of Child Welfare Records," Moderator, Child Welfare Legal Academy, Atlanta, GA, January 2014.