Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Cook County Juvenile Court Clinic

The Cook County Juvenile Court Clinic developed from a research and reform project that was a collaboration of Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and Office of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Chief Judge had initiated the project to improve how judges in the Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Department (Juvenile Court) obtained and used clinical, i.e., mental health information. The multi-year project supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, established that clinical information frequently is valuable in assisting Juvenile Court judges with difficult and/or complex legal decisions. The project also determined, however, that numerous obstacles hampered Juvenile Court judges’ ability to obtain timely, relevant, and accurate clinical information. These obstacles included: inappropriate and/or vague referrals which yielded little or no useful information; a backlog of requests that produced lengthy delays to obtaining needed information; and little or no communication between Juvenile Court and clinical providers. The research project proposed a model for a court clinic that incorporated a variety of services to minimize or eliminate those problems and enhance the use of clinical information for obtaining the best possible results for court-involved minors and families.

In 2003, the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court established the Juvenile Court Clinic as a non-judicial office within the Circuit Court of Cook County. See, The Clinic’s operation is based on the research model and operates under Northwestern management in continued partnership with Cook County.

The Clinic’s stated mission is “to ensure the Juvenile Court’s timely access to relevant, accurate, and culturally-sensitive clinical information that promotes the best possible outcomes for children, families, and communities.” The Clinic is located in the Cook County Juvenile Center that contains the Juvenile Court’s Juvenile Justice and Child Protection courtrooms, the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC), the Department of Juvenile Probation, and other entities affiliated with the Juvenile Court. This location permits the Clinic to be well-integrated with and responsive to the needs of the Juvenile Court, its constituents, and court-affiliated entities.

The Clinic employs a multi-disciplinary staff who carry out a variety of forensic services to help judges, lawyers, probation offices, and JTDC staff make informed and relevant decisions concerning minors and families in Juvenile Justice and Child Protection legal proceedings. These services include:

Our Success


The Clinic has been acknowledged at local and national levels for its innovative structure and quality of its work for and with the Juvenile Court. In addition to presentations at national conferences such as APA and APLS, Clinic staff have published numerous articles describing and/or related to the Clinic’s work in Juvenile Court:

Clinic Staff

The majority of the Clinic’s staff are Northwestern University employees, working pursuant to a contract between Northwestern and Cook County. County employees are indicated by *, below.


Philip C. O'Donnell, M.J., PhD. , Director
Krissie Fernandez Smith, PhD., Associate Director

Clinical Coordinators

Nereasa Bello-Sykes, MA, MJ
Jennifer Boston, MA, LPC
Michael Clements, MSW, Clinical Coordinator Supervisor
Tamara Friday, LCSW
Karen Pitroda, LCSW


Hope Fiori, MPPA, Program Coordinator/Clinic Administrator
Rita Dalinis, MPPA, Program Evaluation & Resource Supervisor
Catherine Murphy, MPPA, Record Gathering & PE Coding 
Martin Nkansah, Ms.Ed., Records Custodian
Abelina Ayala*, Receptionist 

Staff Psychologists

Sweety Agrawal, PsyD*
Erick Arguello, PsyD*
Danielle Rynczak, JD, PsyD*
Anne Devaud, PsyD*
Michael Igaravidez, PsyD*
Ascher Levy, PsyD*

*Employee of Office of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Contact Clinic:

Philip C. O’Donnell, M.J., Ph.D.


Contact Us

Philip C. O’Donnell, M.J., Ph.D.