Legal Rights

When Schools Use Child Welfare as a Weapon – What a reporter learned investigating malicious reports

Last November, The Huffington Post published an article that documented how some schools misuse reports to child protective services. These reports were done to pressure parents to send a child with behavior problems to a different school or to agree to a school’s recommendations for services.

Most school personnel don’t make reports maliciously, but the reporter, Caroline Preston, a senior editor at The Hechinger Report, said she thinks mandated reporting laws contribute to these kinds of calls because “there are pretty significant consequences to not reporting, and many fewer consequences to over-reporting.”

Here, Preston tells us about the parents she interviewed—and all the parents who reached out after her story was published to say they’d had similar experiences.

Handling Your Case

My Broken Life – My kids were never taken but child protective services hurt my son and me so much

My story is about how my son’s school came into my life and changed it in a way that I don’t know if I can ever be who I was before.

It’s about how I got arrested. Lost my job. Have sleepless nights.

A part of me has been stolen.

If I had the power, I would let the system know that child protective services needs to do proper investigations. Don’t label me without knowing me.

I live in the South Bronx. In my neighborhood, there are a lot of investigations. If I lived elsewhere and my son went to a different school, I think this would have never, ever happened.

News

Video: Get to Know Our Rise & Shine Parent Leadership Program

In 2019, Rise launched the Rise & Shine Parent Leadership Program to build parents’ skills and power to advocate for child welfare reform and for justice and safety in their communities. Watch our video to learn more!

>> Rise is seeking to raise $100,000 by Nov. 1 to run a second cycle of Rise & Shine from January-May 2020. Donate today!

>> Learn more about Rise & Shine’s impact … Read More

ABOUT RISE

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.

Parent Presentations

Ask Yourself: ‘Am I More Focused on Compliance Than Safety?’ – Parents encourage attorneys who represent the child welfare system to focus on justice and humanity in the courtroom

This spring, Rise parent leaders presented to all 250 Administration for Children’s Services attorneys who represent the child welfare system in family court. (The division is called Family Court Legal Services, or FCLS.) Rise parent leaders routinely present to newly-hired FCLS attorneys. Here is their presentation: 

Rise trains parents to write and speak about their experiences with the child welfare system. The insights you’ll hear today are based on the personal essays Rise has developed with … Read More

Parent Presentations

‘I Felt Terrified—and Shocked’ – How to approach parents in child protective investigations

In 2018, Rise parent leaders were asked to provide input to the Administration for Children’s Services on training for child protective investigators. Our team worked with 20 life experienced parents to develop feedback, including parent advocates working at foster care and legal agencies and parents with recent foster care cases. Jeanette Vega, Nancy Fortunato and Robbyne Wiley developed the presentation. Here is their presentation: 

Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for the opportunity to present parents’ perspectives … Read More

Parent Presentations

Bringing parents’ perspective on racial equity in child welfare

On September 27, 2017, Rise Senior Parent Leader Jeanette Vega spoke on a panel on advocacy at the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Washington DC convening of the Alliance for Racial Equity.

Drawing on Rise’s issue Facing Race in Child Welfare, Jeanette spoke about the challenges parents must overcome to successfully navigate the child welfare system and discrimination against people of color when poverty is seen as neglect. She drew comparisons between child welfare … Read More

Go to About Rise

Stories by Frontline Staff

Caseworkers play such an important role in whether parents succeed in getting their children home from foster care. To build parents’ understanding of caseworkers and workers’ understanding of parents, Rise ran two writing groups for frontline staff at the NYC agency Sheltering Arms. These stories show the challenges caseworkers face, as well as ways they’ve overcome those challenges.

READ THE SERIES:

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

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

Partners in Planning – When parents are supported to participate in planning, we can make better decisions.

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

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

Safe Enough to Grow – Both parents and caseworkers need to feel supported and accepted.