Throughout Rise’s series on schools and child welfare, parents describe how school reports to child protective services took them by surprise. Sometimes, the calls were made without sufficient cause. Other times, problems at home escalated when schools were not willing or able to adequately address a child’s behavior problems. Even for families who got help, the trauma of child welfare involvement far over-shadowed the benefits.
Here, Asia Piña and Crystal Baker-Burr, a social worker and an education attorney at The Bronx Defenders, warn parents that some schools may call in reports far more quickly than others. They suggest ways parents can navigate challenges and improve their relationship with their child’s school to avoid unnecessary reports.
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.
This year, Rise has focused our work on examining the harmful impact of child welfare’s culture of surveillance on families, particularly low-income families of color. We are pleased that City Council has taken on this issue, and write in support of the bills introduced by members of the progressive caucus to hold the Administration for Children’s Services accountable for their disproportionate presence in our families’ communities, and to provide parents with crucial legal protections during investigations.
Nancy Fortunato, Senior Parent Leader at Rise, testified at the October 31, 2019 hearing of the General Welfare Committee.