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.

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

Don’t Battle Alone – It’s important to show the court that you have people on your team

Kathleen Creamer, a parent attorney at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, explains how parents can strengthen their case by presenting the people in their lives in family court, as well as what parents can do if they don’t have anyone to bring to court.

Q: What role should friends, family and others play in court?

A: When you walk into court, it’s incredibly important to present as a parent who is willing and able to ask for … Read More

‘When Can A Child Be Left Alone?’ – A new report argues that vague laws lead to unnecessary investigations and removals

When I was 7 years old I would ride the bus to school with my grandmother. When she got off the bus to go to work, I’d ride the bus a few more stops, then walk the four blocks to my school by myself. I didn’t think anything of it. My grandma taught me to never stray from the path and she also warned me to scream, kick or punch if someone tried to take … Read More

Protecting Your Privacy – How to work with your lawyer to keep therapy as confidential as possible.

When you’ve grown up in foster care and you return to the system as a parent, it often seems like the court knows your entire mental health history. Because your current therapist also reports to the court about your progress, therapy can wind up feeling neither private nor safe.

Sonja Jacobsen, a lawyer for parents in Washington State, explains how to make therapy safer.

Q: Why is therapy important for parents when kids are in foster care?

A: … Read More

Do No Harm – Trauma-focused courts address the roots of foster care placement.

Since 2010, the Chautauqua County Family Court in upstate New York has worked to become a “trauma-informed court.” Here, Judge Judith Claire and Aimee Neri, a licensed social worker who is the New York State Child Welfare Court Improvement Project Liaison to the 8th Judicial District, describe how they’ve brought awareness of trauma into the court and how it’s helping families:

Q: How did you decide to focus on trauma in your court?

Neri: We know that … Read More