Rise reports on the child welfare system with a goal of highlighting efforts to improve policies and practice and spotlighting effective practices.

Torn apart by adoption

I was fighting tears at the last court date before I was taken off the case.

Ms. M, my client, stood and stated that she had neglected her child. The judged asked if she understood what was happening. With a smile, Ms. M said, “Yes.” But I felt quite sure she didn’t.

I think Ms. M believed that making the admission meant she was not going to lose her parental rights. But for over two years, Ms. … Read More

When Stress Is Toxic – Bringing the science of child development into child welfare

BY JEANETTE VEGA with Dominique Arrington and Sharkkarah Harrison

When children are removed from home, parents feel a level of grief and stress that can hardly be explained. Then they often face more stress, with things like losing a job because of mandated services, losing housing and juggling multiple services.

When our bodies feel too much pressure and threat, stress can put us in an “act now, think later” mentality that makes it even harder to … Read More

Training Workers to Partner with Parents – NYC’s new Workforce Institute focuses on listening and coaching

As a parent, dealing with child welfare workers can be an emotional, unpredictable experience. Some workers judge you and others try to tell you what to do before they even know you.

Personally, I found it hard to be open when the worker investigating me was trying to poke holes in all my answers to her questions. I was lucky that I got past the investigation and that my preventive worker was totally different and … Read More

Transparency and Trust – As a case planner, I know I have power over parents’ lives—and I try to share it.

When a foster care agency first receives a case, the agency is required to make contact with the family within 72 hours. During the first contacts, case planners are expected to establish a positive connection with parents. But making that connection can be a challenge when case planners also represent the system that has taken parents’ children.

When I first meet with a parent, they are often at the lowest point in their lives. Most were … Read More

Fixing the Front Line – A new approach to hiring and supporting caseworkers

Nine out of 10 foster care agencies nationwide say it’s tough to find and keep caseworkers that are qualified, and a recent study in New York City, 4 out of every 10 caseworkers left the job in the first year they were hired. 

If you’re a parent who hasn’t had a good relationship with a caseworker, you may say, “Who cares if caseworkers stay or go?” But having many different caseworkers, or having an inexperienced caseworker, … Read More