Rise Magazine

Rise magazine is written by parents who have faced the child welfare system in their own lives. Many people don’t know that the majority of children who enter foster care return home to their parents–and that most children in care wish for a lifelong relationship with their parents, whether they live with them or not. Helping parents is fundamental to helping children in foster care.

Through personal essays and reporting, parents illuminate every aspect of the child welfare experience from parents’ perspectives. Sign up for a free individual subscription or purchase print copies to hand out to parents and child welfare staff. For professionals, Rise stories offer insight that can improve how you engage and support fragile families. For parents, Rise offers information, peer support, and hope.

Legal Rights

‘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.

Rise Magazine

How Parents Can Advocate for their Children to Be Placed with Family

When faced with the trauma of the child welfare system removing their children, many parents prefer that their children be cared for by a family member or someone they know and trust, rather than by strangers. Research shows that children benefit from being placed with family members rather than non-relatives, and states are required by law to prioritize placement with relatives. Unfortunately, this isn’t always what happens in practice. In NYC, the child welfare agency, ACS, invested in coaching and training so that more children are placed with kin.

Here, Lavern Harry, VP Foster Care, Adoption and Preventive Services, and Nosa Omoruyi, Director Foster Parent Recruitment, Development and Support, talk about practices that have increased use of kinship care at Graham, an agency in New York City. Ms. Harry and Mr. Omoruyi discuss the rights of parents and family members, as well as some of the challenges of kinship care. They also suggest what parents can do if their children are removed to make it more likely that they will — or won’t — be placed with particular family members.

Generations in Care

‘I Was Denied the Right to Keep My Family Intact’ – Black families like mine have been separated for generations

Black Lives Matter! A rallying cry to address the unjustifiable killing of people of color and the public’s disregard and avoidance of the reasons this issue remains rooted in our society. Media outlets are primarily reporting on police brutality, as they should; however systemic racism is pervasive in all American institutions, including child welfare. Every institutional encounter places the Black family at risk of separation. From public school teachers, medical staff, public housing, social services and the police, Black families cannot avoid scrutiny nor find relief or justice.

My niece has been in foster care in Erie County, NY for five years and will now be adopted by non-relatives. In violation of our family’s rights, I was never notified by the child welfare system that she was in care. 

My niece’s removal to foster care was a direct outcome of the ramifications of slavery and institutional racism. This statement may sound alarmist; however, my niece is only six generations removed from slavery, two generations removed from Jim Crow, and is a third generation experiencing the disruption of our family by the child welfare system.