Handling Your Case

When children are placed in foster care, parents often feel overwhelmed, afraid, ashamed, angry and confused. Stories by other parents who have reunited with their children can help you navigate the child welfare system. Even if your goal is to fight the allegations in court, it’s usually a good idea to immediately enroll in services that the court is requiring, such as parenting classes or treatment. Stories here show how to work with your lawyer, caseworker and parent advocate; take the lead in planning support services; and stay connected with your children while they are in foster care.

No Escape – The system failed me as a child but now it won’t leave me alone

As a child I cried out for help to child protective
services. But the system didn’t help me when I was a child, and it hasn’t
helped me as a parent.

Almost as soon as my older son was born, child
protective services came into my life saying my son needed protection from me,
and it has remained in my life to this day. Instead of helping me, it weakened
my family and left me vulnerable. Because of the system, my child lives with anger
and anxiety.  

Neighborhoods Under Scrutiny – The new ‘Jane Crow’ of child welfare investigations and the lasting effects on poor families

On Friday, the New York Times published a story highlighting the impact of ACS’s heightened scrutiny of parents in NYC’s poorest neighborhoods, the increased number of children now being removed from home, and the struggle families face repairing the damage when children enter foster care unnecessarily.

In the first quarter of 2017, requests for removals were up 40% over the same time last year, the Times reported. Many children are returned within days or weeks; nationwide, nearly 10% of children are removed from home for 30 days … Read More

Noticing Trauma in Visits – How caseworkers can respond to signs of possible trauma

Interview by Nancy Fortunato, Jeanette Vega and Robbyne Wiley 

Glenn Saxe, a developer of Trauma Systems Therapy and professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, explains how caseworkers can respond to signs of possible trauma.

Q: How can you tell if a parent’s actions are related to past trauma?

A: As a caseworker supervising visits, you may see surprising responses, like a parent getting very withdrawn in certain moments. Over time, you may see … Read More

Act Now, Pay Later – When my son entered foster care, I couldn’t think, plan, or stay calm

Before my son entered foster care, I was working full time and going to school full time. I was known for multi-tasking. I never kept a calendar but I could make all appointments and never be late. I was on it. But once child welfare got involved in my life, things went sideways real fast.

After I lost my son, it was like I lost control over my body and mind. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t … Read More

When Stress Is Toxic – Bringing the science of child development into child welfare

BY JEANETTE VEGA with Dominique Arrington and Sharkkarah Harrison

When children are removed from home, parents feel a level of grief and stress that can hardly be explained. Then they often face more stress, with things like losing a job because of mandated services, losing housing and juggling multiple services.

When our bodies feel too much pressure and threat, stress can put us in an “act now, think later” mentality that makes it even harder to … Read More