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.

How to Get School-Based Supports for Your Child

Many parents at Rise have described how their child’s school denied their child testing for educational disabilities or supports to help a child learn in school, even when the child was clearly struggling. Then, when problems escalated, the schools called child protection.

There are organizations and people who can help parents get the help they need, when they need it. In NYC, Advocates for Children provides advice and legal aid to ensure that low-income families have access to quality education for their children. Promise Project helps low-income families properly evaluate their children for learning disabilities and get the services they need.

We spoke with Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children; Lillian Murphy, senior project manager at Promise Project; and Lorenzo Torres, supervising education coordinator at Promise Project to find out about children’s rights and the IEP process.

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.

NY State Legislature Passes New Open Adoption Bill 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:

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