Handling Your Case

‘I Can and Will Do This!’ – I had courage but Visit Coaching gave me the support to bring my son home

When child protective services took my son Logan, I thought my life was over. Logan was 9 months old. I didn’t know anything about the foster care system.

After an emergency hearing, I got visits with him twice each week for one hour. I spent two years visiting him without missing any of those visits. But I didn’t leave Logan’s father, who the agency considered a threat.

When I learned that the agency had moved my case “upstairs” … Read More

Handling Your Case

What Is Visit Coaching?

When I learned about a program called Visit Coaching, which is designed to help families have better quality visits, I decided to get trained to be a coach.

I know from experience how important visits are. My own son was in foster care. By coming early to visits and playing with him, I was able to show him that I loved him even though we were separated. But visits can also reflect all the pain, anger, … Read More


INTRODUCTION – New series of stories by frontline staff about working with parents in child welfare: ‘My Goal Is to Return Power to Parents’

Caseworkers play such an important role in whether parents succeed in getting their children home from foster care.

When my son was in foster care, I had 5 or 6 caseworkers over the course of three years. Most of my caseworkers seemed like they were too busy to give me 5 minutes of their time, or were so scared of my anger that they avoided me. I used to feel so frustrated, thinking: “You never have … Read More


Parents whose children enter foster care are largely invisible to the public. Media coverage focuses on horrific tragedies; in fact, more than half of children in foster care safely return home. A more accurate, nuanced picture of who parents are is essential to improving child welfare. Since 2005, Rise has trained parents to write and share their experiences with the child welfare system in order to deepen understanding of fragile families; provide information, healing and encouragement to parents; and guide child welfare professionals in becoming more responsive to the families and communities they serve. Rise amplifies parent voice child welfare reform and changes the story of who these parents are–and can be.

Staff Training

Transparency and Trust – As a case planner, I know I have power over parents’ lives—and I try to share it.

This story is part of Rise’s series by frontline staff at foster care agencies about their experiences working with parents. 

When a foster care agency first receives a case, the agency is required to make contact with the family within 72 hours. During the first contacts, case planners are expected to establish a positive connection with parents. But making that connection can be a challenge when case planners also represent the system that has taken parents’ children.

When … Read More

Staff Training

Meeting Parents Where They Are – Accepting my own feelings helped me accept the parents I work with

This story is part of Rise’s series by frontline staff at foster care agencies about their experiences working with parents. 

Five years ago, I was “green” in the field of child welfare. I was three weeks out of college with a BA in psychology. I was motivated to do the job of case planner because I’d always wanted to work with children. I knew there would be some interaction with parents but I didn’t think it would … Read More

Staff Training

Making a Connection – A moment of understanding changed my relationship with an angry father

This story is part of Rise’s series by frontline staff at foster care agencies about their experiences working with parents. 

I had been working as a case planner for about a month when I met Mr. G.

Before he walked into my office, other workers and even my supervisor told me that this father was difficult.

I’d also read up on the case and saw that in three prior court hearings he’d lashed out against the worker and his … Read More

Staff Training

Overwhelmed – High caseloads and paperwork make it harder to invest in human connections

This story is part of Rise’s series by frontline staff at foster care agencies about their experiences working with parents. 

I took the job of case planner because I wanted to help families, particularly parents.

I believe I have the ability to empathize with people without judging them. I grew up poor in Harlem in the 1980s. My mother received public assistance, and drug trafficking was all around in my neighborhood, so I understand that people can struggle … Read More

Go to About Rise

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Rise covered in Fusion: “How the power of storytelling can change lives in child welfare cases”

Journalist Ada Calhoun covered Rise in Fusion, writing: “Nora McCarthy is a natural narrator. Even popping popcorn in a microwave down the hall from her modest office on Manhattan’s West 27th Street, the blond 40-year-old, wearing a white eyelet shirt, light pants and blue sandals, is preternaturally calm and methodical: “Huh, that was just three pops. I’m going to reset the timer… This bowl isn’t quite big enough… Hmm, how about this one? Okay, that … Read More

WATCH OUR VIDEO “In Our Own Words”

Rise-Moth Storytelling Workshop!

In January, Rise partnered with The Moth on a workshop where 8 parents leaders learned to tell a story aloud – without notes! On March 8, Rise parent leader and board member Bevanjae Kelley will perform at a Moth Community Showcase. Stay tuned!