6◆ law.wne.edu PERSPECTIVES
The next step for the Glens Falls, N Y, native was Western New England, where she felt
both inspired and challenged.
After taking her first family law course (
Representing Children) with Professor Michael
Donnelly, Aimee was hooked. “I took every
course on children and families while I was at
law school. I loved them. When I graduated, I met
with another alumna, Joanne McCarthy (’85),
who worked with the Juvenile Court as an attorney and court investigator. She called over to
DSS for me to see if there were any openings. I
applied that day and have been working with
families and children ever since,” she says.
Aimee has served the Department of Children and Families in Springfield since 1991.
In her present role, she acts as senior manager
of the department of 17, 12 of whom are fellow
alumni of Western New England University
School of Law. Two new hires this spring are
also alumni. She also sponsors interns from
Western New England. “The students that come
to us are very excited to learn. They want to
get into the courtroom and try their hand at
‘lawyering.’ At least four of our attorneys started
as interns,’ she says.
“As attorneys for the Commonwealth, our
office works almost exclusively with the Juvenile
Courts handling Care and Protection petitions,”
Aimee explains. “These petitions encompass adju-
dicating children in need of care and protection,
termination of parental rights, guardianships, and
adoptions. We also practice before the probate
court with Care and Responsibility Petitions,
guardianships of young adults with disabilities
and sua sponte orders of custody.”
While poverty is a root cause of many child
welfare issues, in her 15 years at the Department,
Aimee sees the opioid epidemic as the biggest
challenge facing area families today.
“Almost every case that comes through our
doors has some form of opioid addiction attached
to it,” she says. “The drugs are everywhere and
they are fairly cheap. Parents are in and out of
rehabilitation services. We have trouble finding
the appropriate services for clients. Finding beds
for inpatient services can be very challenging.
Finding services that will work with families in
their native tongue is also difficult, especially in
rural areas. The drug addiction leads to neglect
of children, so it’s a Catch- 22 situation. Until
the drug addiction is addressed, nothing will
improve for the children.
“Parents are clean and then they relapse and
this happens over and over again,” she explains.
“To feed that addiction, they will do anything to
get their drugs, including prostitution, selling
food stamps, and selling their own children’s
medications. Many times children are exposed to
criminals and sexual offenders.”
Faced with this endless cycle, many children
head down the pathway to adoption.
“I am most proud when children who have
come through our system are able to find forever
homes,” says Aimee, who has dedicated a wall in
her office to photographs from National Adoption
Day, a rare day of celebration at the courthouse.
“The court has a celebration where not only
do the parents adopt the children, the children
adopt their parents. The faces of love and hope
are inspiring. There are not too many happy days
in Juvenile Court, but when a child knows that
they are staying in a home where they will be
safe, warm, well taken care of, and loved, it is
Since childhood, Aimee Cameron-Browne ’90, regional counsel in the Department of Children and
Families in Springfield, MA, has been drawn to advocate for the rights of children and families. Initially
studying to be a nurse midwife at SUNY Plattsburgh, Aimee changed majors and the trajectory of
her life after being inspired by Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro’s nomination acceptance
speech at the 1984 Democratic Convention.
“I realized I didn’t need to get into medicine to help children and families; I could become a lawyer
and fight for them in a different arena. The next day, I changed my major to political science with the
hope that I could go to law school,” she says.