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.

‘We had to see it through for my niece, my sister, our family’: How Amber Wilkes-Smith filed an appeal to try to keep her family together

Soon after Amber Wilkes-Smith’s niece was born, she was placed in foster care in Buffalo, New York. Amber was not notified by the child welfare system, in violation of her family’s rights and child welfare requirements. By the time she found out her niece was in care, her sister’s parental rights had been terminated. Amber filed a petition through the court to try to get custody. When her petition was denied, she appealed the decision. Although Amber lost the appeal, she is sharing her experience to raise awareness of these issues, help other families and push for change.

Here, Amber and Michael Steinberg, Amber’s lawyer in the appeal, explain the appeal process. They discuss violations of parents’ and families’ legal rights and systemic injustice in the child welfare and family court systems.

Suing the System: ‘It was about fighting for my rights.’

NYC parent LaQuana Chappelle explains how and why she sued ACS.

LaQuana Chappelle’s children were removed by ACS illegally following an accident. After she got her kids back, she got a lawyer and sued the system. The case was settled with the City of New York paying damages to LaQuana and her children.

Here, LaQuana discusses her experience, the importance of knowing your rights and her advice for other parents who are considering suing.

How to Sue the System

Attorney David Lansner explains how children and parents can sue the child welfare system

By Sarah Harris, Shakira Paige, Careena Farmer, Cynthia Zizola and Genesis Pagan, Rise Contributors, and Keyna Franklin, Rise Parent Leader

Many parents feel that what we experienced at
the hands of child welfare was unjust but that there’s nothing we can do about
it. We wanted to find out if that was true, so we interviewed David Lansner, a
family court lawyer in New York City … Read More

A Parent’s Ally: Providing “A Bridge” for Parents in Early Legal Representation

Parent advocates have an essential impactful role in providing effective legal representation to protect parents’ rights, prevent family separation and support parents involved with the child welfare system. Here, Iesha Hammons, the Parent Ally at Legal Services of New Jersey, explains how she supports parents, why she does this work, the challenges of being a Parent Ally and how she takes care of herself in the role.