Advocacy

Parent-led advocacy and parent input in child welfare reform is essential to better addressing the root causes of family crises; meeting the service needs of high-risk families; reducing disproportionate placements and disparate treatment of families of color; changing the adversarial relationship between child welfare systems and poor communities; improving court practices; and ensuring that foster care placement is used as sparingly as possible so that children are more likely to grow up safe with their families.

The Color of Hope: Race can affect whether parents get the support to overcome.

My child welfare story (Shrounda) began when I moved into a neighborhood high in drug use and poverty. I was an African-American woman in my mid-30s, married with two children. I was arrogant—I thought I could control my drug use and that my surroundings wouldn’t affect me. Instead I found myself in the depth of an ever-evolving addiction. I went from using alcohol and cocaine to using crack daily. I desired so much out of … Read More

First You Have to Gain Our Trust – Parents’ prescriptions for keeping kids of color out of foster care.

The Birth Parent National Network, coordinated by the Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds, connects parent leaders nationwide. Here, BPNN members Jeffrey Mays, parent partner at the Public Children Services Association of Ohio in Cleveland; Shrounda Selivanoff, parent advocate at Evergreen Manor Inpatient Treatment and volunteer at Catalyst for Kids in Washington State; and Piazadora Footman, editorial assistant at Rise in New York, share parents’ perspectives on how to bring fewer children of color into the … Read More

Compassion in the Court! – Model courts find that supporting parents can strengthen the whole family.

Child welfare cases are heard in courts because parents and children have legal rights, and the role of lawyers and judges is to protect those rights. But in a typical court case, when one side wins, the other side loses. In child welfare, that’s not the case. When parents lose, children lose. Children and parents both do best when children can safely return home.

With that in mind, the Model Courts project of the National Council … Read More

‘I Used to Be in Your Shoes’ – As a parent advocate, I help lawyers and parents connect.

Illustration by Karolina Zaniesienko

I am a parent advocate at the Center for Family Representation (CFR) in New York City. CFR provides parents in child welfare proceedings a lawyer, social worker, family advocate, and parent advocate to support them.

Parents whose children were removed and put in foster care often feel like they can’t trust anyone. Many parents are victims of childhood abuse or domestic violence; some use drugs to deal with their pain. They’re … Read More

Raising My Voice for Parents Inside – Advocating to change a law’s impact on prisoners.

art by Rosa Perin

Story as told to Lynne Miller

When I was locked up, I left my son with family, but he was removed from their home because of neglect. It was two months before I found out where my son was. It was four months until I heard his voice again. In prison, most of the time there’s no one to help you with a child welfare case. If you don’t know your rights, … Read More