Legal Rights

Parents’ legal rights in child welfare proceedings vary from state to state, and even in different cities. Work with your lawyer or a parent advocate to learn more about your rights. Rise’s interviews with lawyers offer guidance on your rights and responsibilities.

NY State Considers New Open Adoption Law to Protect Children’s Family Bonds

Legislators in New York State are considering passing a bill to ensure that children adopted from foster care can continue to have contact with their parents, even when rights are terminated, if it’s in the child’s best interest. Here, Rise’s Sara Werner, who lost her daughter to adoption but reunified with her son, interviews Amy Mulzer, a staff attorney for law and appeals in the Family Defense Practice at Brooklyn Defender Services:

Q: What is … Read More

When Doctors Abuse Their Power – A new book on the plight of families wrongly accused of child abuse

“They Took the Children Last Night: How the Child Protection System Puts Families at Risk,” by parent attorney and policy advocate Diane Redleaf, tells the stories of families who faced allegations of abuse after they brought their children to the hospital for unexplained injuries, unusual symptoms, or after an accident.

Until 2017, Redleaf led the Family Defense Center in Chicago. Telling the stories from a lawyer’s perspective, she echoes many of the themes parents have sounded … Read More

Seeking Closure — How to seal your child welfare case history

Reports of child abuse and neglect in New York State are made to the State Central Registry (SCR). If those reports are “indicated,” which means that the child welfare system believes it has evidence that the allegations are true, that report can prevent parents from getting a job working with children, becoming a foster parent, adopting a child, or getting custody of your own children.

How an “Indicated” Report Can Affect You

When you apply for a … Read More

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

Two Years Gone – A family came to the hospital asking for help. Once there, everything changed.

In March 2013, a poor Chinese immigrant mother in Brooklyn took her 9-month-old baby, Mathew, to the hospital because he’d had a seizure. She explained that he’d fallen trying to walk and hit his head, then had the seizure. Hospital personnel and New York’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) charged that either the mother, Mei Qi Bao, or the baby’s father, Xiao Hang Wang, had abused their son. They said his symptoms could not have … Read More