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.

‘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

Reducing the Risk – Mothers in foster care need to know what’s in their case file and address risks.

Many of us who grew up in foster care feel like the child welfare system is just waiting for us to mess up, and according to the American Bar Association’s Center for Children and the Law, 77% of lawyers who responded to a recent survey said they believe that mothers in foster care are separated from their children for less serious allegations than other mothers.

Here, Jessica Weidmann, a lawyer at the Center for Family Representation … Read More

Life After TPR – New laws give some families a second chance.

Illustration by Tamika Ono-Knight

Under federal law, parents typically have only 15 months to prove that they can safely reunify with their children. For parents struggling with addiction, that’s a short time to break the cycle of relapse and recovery. Yet research shows that children in foster care do better when they have parents or other biological family members in their lives. Here, LaShanda Taylor, associate professor of law at the University of the District … Read More