Friday, April 10, 2009
Case Update -- Termination of Parental Rights Vacated Because Counsel Appointed for Parent Only Two Weeks Before Trial
Monday, April 6, 2009
As part of a program at New York University School of Law recently on Drugs, Pregnancy and Parenting: What the Experts in Medicine, Social Work and Law Have to Say, Dr. Deborah A. Frank, Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine presented a lecture on Prenatal Drug Exposure: What Does the Science Tell Us? She explores the social meaning of certain drugs and exposes some of the myths laden in the term "crack-addicted babies". The entire lecture is about 15 minutes and would be especially useful in child welfare classes and clinics. The video can be viewed at http://www.vimeo.com/3916613 (last visited April 6, 2009 bgf)
Sunday, April 5, 2009
The National Center for Housing and Child Welfare (NCHCW) has published an issue brief identifying more than $2 billion in stimulus funding available for emergency housing to prevent placement of children in foster care. Trade journal Youth Today summarizes the issue brief here.
Friday, March 13, 2009
A report prepared by University of South Florida researchers describes Florida's use of a federal waiver on expenditure of Title IV-E funds. Since October 2006, Florida has redirected monies from out-of-home care (i.e., foster care and group home placements) by expanding prevention, family preservation, and in-home and other diversionary services and supports for families involved in, or at risk of involvement in, the child welfare system. According to the data-laden report, Florida's community-based approach has resulted in improved outcomes for children with respect to safety and permanency, potentially signaling important innovations in child welfare policy and practice.
Monday, March 9, 2009
In his forthcoming article, "Child Welfare and Future Persons", Carter Dillard, Westerfield Fellow, at Loyola University, New Orleans takes on the questions raised by State v. Oakley, 629 NW2d 200 (Wis. 2001) that we find in most of our family law textbooks -- that is, when, if ever, are orders prohibiting procreation constitutional and enforceable? Here is the abstract of the article:
While ethicists have delved deep into the rights and wrongs of procreating, lawyers have had little to say about the matter, stymied by practical concerns, the tendency of the law to ignore prospective children and their interests, and the misperception that a fundamental rights boundary absolutely forbids state intervention. But recently a small door has opened in this wall between law and ethics: as courts faced with having to repeatedly remove abused and neglected children from parents adjudged unfit have issued temporary no-procreation orders. As precedent builds and the possibility of ex ante regulation of procreation and parenthood grows, a moral and legal debate is developing over what duties prospective parents owe their future children and the society with which those children will interact. But increasingly the debate is a muddle of inapposite and conflicting state probation and constitutional law in search of statutory guidance. This Article attempts to cut through it, and to state the intermediate-level principle at its core:
A prospective parent has a moral and legal duty to be fit when he or she has a child, one arising from or creating correlative claim-rights shared by the state and prospective children, and a prospective parent has no liberty to have a child until he or she is fit.
The Article then argues for codification of this principle, to be applied in cases of recurring child abuse and neglect.
Read the article on SSRN. (last visited March 9, 2009 bgf)
Friday, March 6, 2009
States require youth to leave foster care at ages that vary from 18 to 21. Abundant research shows that children who are "emancipated" directly from foster care to adulthood are at "high risk for a number of adverse outcomes during their transition to adulthood, including economic insecurity, housing instability, criminal justice involvement, and early child-bearing." Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago recently issued a report reviewing state "policies and procedures designed to support youth transitioning out of foster care." (free registration on the Chapin Hall website may be required to access the free report)
Friday, February 20, 2009
NPR's Michel Martin aired a segment this week about racial disproportionality and disparity in the child welfare system, a topic addressed previously on this Blog (including in an entry dated January 27, 2009). Guests included Kristen Weber of the Center for the Study of Social Policy, Bernadette Blount, a parent advocate with New York's Child Welfare Organizing Project, and Toni Heineman, Director of A Home Within. Click on this link and then click again on "listen here" to hear the program (17 mins 26 secs.)
(last visited MIF -2-20-2009)
Thursday, February 5, 2009
According to the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the following conferences about adoption and child welfare are scheduled to occur in the next few months:
- BACW 2009 Annual Conference
Bridging the Gap for Our Children, Our Legacy
Black Administrators in Child Welfare, Inc.
March 8–10, Long Beach, CA
- Fifth Annual Conference on Childhood Grief and Traumatic Loss
Restoring Joy to Children and Families
ICAN Associates, Inc.
March 26, Los Angeles, CA
- 36th Annual New England Adoption Conference
Adoption Community of New England, Inc.
March 28, Bellingham, MA
- 17th Annual Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
Focusing on the Future: Strengthening Families and Communities
Children's Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect
March 30–April 4, Atlanta, GA
- 27th Annual Protecting Our Children National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
National Indian Child Welfare Association
April 19–22, Reno, NV
- American Adoption Conference 30th Annual Conference
April 22–26, Cleveland, OH
- NFPA 39th Annual Education Conference
Focus on the Future . . . Love a Child
National Foster Parent Association
May 4–8, Reno, NV
- Eighth Annual National Citizen Review Panel Conference
May 20–22, Jackson Hole, WY
Monday, February 2, 2009
Completing a process begun in 2001, the Supreme Court of Ohio has adopted new rules governing the requirements for guardians ad litem in juvenile and domestic child custody cases. The new rule 48 provides that courts must enter an order appointing either a GAL or a GAL and attorney advocate for the child. The rule includes a broad range of responsibilities for Guardians ad Litem, which are mandated unless impracticable or inadvisable. These responsibilities include interviewing the parents and child and visiting the child in his or her residence. All GALs are required to file a written, final report at least seven days before a final hearing.
Read the new rule 48 here (as a word document).
The new rule follows an extensive study of the Ohio GAL system which examined GAL services provided to abused and neglected children throughout the state. The data for the study was collected through surveying guardians ad litem, juvenile/family court judges and through information contained in a sample of local court records. Many of the recommendations from that report have found their way into the new rule. Read the Ohio CASA/GAL Study Committee's Final Report: In the Interest of Abused and Neglected Children. (last visited Feb. 2, 2009 bgf)
Friday, January 30, 2009
In response to U.S. District Judge Weinstein's findings in Nicholson v. Williams, 203 F.Supp.2d 153 (E.D.N.Y. 2002), the New York State legislature will consider Bill A01440, designed to "prevent further trauma to a child whose custodial parent is a victim of domestic violence [by] establish[ing] a presumption of fitness on the part of the battered custodial parent to prevent the unnecessary removal of the child from the battered parent."
According to the "memo" describing Bill A01440, "Many child psychologists agree that the removal of children from their abused mothers actually harms children, who according to the Nicholson decision, 'are particularly sensitive to being separated from the non-abusive parent.' Often these children blame themselves for their placement into foster care. By establishing a presumption in favor of the battered parent, this legislation seeks to prevent routine and unnecessary removals of children from their custodial parent."
Bill A01440 has been referred to the New York State Assembly Children and Families Committee.
Drugs, Pregnancy and Parenting:
What the Experts in Medicine, Social Work and the Law Have to Say
Wednesday, February 11, 2009, New York City
People working in the field of criminal law, family law, and child welfare often have cases that involve issues of drug use. These lawyers, social workers, counselors, advocates and investigators, however, are often trying to do their jobs without the benefit of evidence-based research or access to experts knowledgeable about drugs, drug treatment and the relationship between drug use, pregnancy and parenting. Drugs, Pregnancy and Parenting: What the Experts in Medicine, Social Work and the Law Have to Say will provide a unique opportunity to meet and learn from the experts. Register at: http://napwtraining.eventbrite.com/
This dynamic program features nationally and internationally renowned medical, social work, and legal experts as well as people with direct experience who will help distinguish myth from fact, evidence-based information from media hype and provide meaningful tools for improved advocacy, representation, care and treatment. Panelists will discuss current research on marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, as well as other areas of research regarding drug use, prenatal exposure to drugs, recovery, treatment and parenting. This research is critical for effective representation and care.
Discussion points will include:
• What does a positive drug test predict about future neglect and abuse?
• What tools can I use to distinguish between myth and fact regarding the effect of drugs and other claims made about drug use and drug users? Is there such a thing as a "crack baby"?
• Is there a difference between drug use and abuse? Can a person parent and be a drug user?
• How should social workers, lawyers, counselors, advocates and judges use and interpret drug tests?
• How do we determine what, if any, treatment should be required and how do we measure its success?
• What is the relationship between drug use, abstinence, relapse and recovery?
• What does evidence-based research tell us about the effectiveness of different kinds of drug treatment?
• How can we implement safety plans that keep families together?
• How can I best advocate for/ help my client when drug use is an issue?
No matter what kind of work you do or practice you have, this course will challenge your assumptions, identify valuable resources and generate hope about families where drug use is an issue.
When: Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 9am to 6pm.
Where: NYU School of Law, 40 Washington Square South, Manhattan
Registration: The fee is $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Breakfast, lunch and beverages will be provided. Financial aid is available. Please register at: http://napwtraining.eventbrite.com/
This program was developed in consultation with representatives from all aspects of New York City 's child welfare system. It is co-sponsored by National Advocates for Pregnant Women, New York University School of Law, and the New York University Silver School of Social Work.
Continuing Legal Education, (7 NY-CLE Credits: 5 Areas of Professional Practice, 2 Skills), Social Work (8 Credits) and CASAC (NYS OASAS 7.5 clock hours approved for CASAC, CPP and/or CPS initial credentialing and/or renewal credits) for full or partial day program available for New York. This program is appropriate for practitioners at all levels. Students are welcome.
For more information, contact Allison Guttu, NAPW Equal Justice Works Staff Attorney, at 212-255-9252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RR (thanks to Maria Arias)
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The Center for the Study of Social Policy has issued a report describing pervasive racial disproportionality and disparity in Michigan's child welfare system. Titled "Race Equity Review: Findings From A Qualitative Analysis of Racial Disproportionality and Disparity for African American Children and Families in Michigan's Child Welfare System," the report was the subject of a Detroit News story and analysis by the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
In the current issue of Families In Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, see "Matched Comparison of Children in Kinship Care and Foster Care on Child Welfare Outcomes," by Winokur, Crawford, Longobardi, and Valentine:
"The documented growth of kinship care has boldly thrust this topic into the forefront of child welfare practice. This study compares the permanency, safety, and stability outcomes for a matched group of children placed in kinship care and foster care. After controlling for demographic and placement characteristics, children in kinship care had significantly fewer placements than did children in foster care, and they were less likely to still be in care, have a new allegation of institutional abuse or neglect, be involved with the juvenile justice system, and achieve reunification. These findings call for a greater commitment by child welfare professionals, policy makers, and researchers to make kinship care a viable out-of-home placement option for children and families."
Monday, January 5, 2009
The National Project to Improve Representation of Parents in the Child Welfare System and the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law will offer the first National Parent Attorney Conference in Washington, D.C. on May 13 - 14th, 2009. Here is a link to the Project's website, including the call for workshops for the conference.
Monday, December 1, 2008
According to the Children's Bureau of the federal Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families:
"On October 7, 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law H.R. 6893, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. The new law, Public Law (P.L.) 110-351, generally amends titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act to provide support to some relative caregivers, provide for Tribal foster care and adoption access, and improve incentives to promote adoption.
Major provisions of the Act include:
- Extending and expanding adoption incentives through Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2013
- Creating an option to provide kinship guardianship assistance payments
- Creating an option to extend eligibility for title IV-E foster care, adoption assistance, and kinship guardianship payments to age 21 beginning in FFY 2011
- Phasing in the de-linking of adoption assistance from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) eligibility beginning in FFY 2011
- Providing federally recognized Indian Tribes or consortia with the option to operate a title IV-E program beginning in FFY 2010"
This is a link to the Children's Bureau Express, which includes links to the new law and the Children's Bureau's guidance.
Friday, November 14, 2008
At last count 34 children have been left at Nebraska hospitals under the state's safe haven law. While the legislature is meeting in special session today to amend the law to put an age limit in place, family law professors are likely facing a number of questions by students about the law. Here's a quick crib sheet with links to references. (all sites last visited November 14, 2008 bgf)
Q. What is this law and do other states have it?
A. According to the National Safe Haven Alliance :"Safe Haven laws have been passed in all 50 states since 1999. At that time a movement arose to combat increasing cases of infant abandonments across the U.S. In many cases these infants would perish from exposure to the elements, starvation or dehydration. Safe Haven laws were created to allow an adult to anonymously relinquish a baby into the hands of a responsible adult, in most cases at hospitals, police stations or fire stations, without fear of reprisal or prosecution."
Q. What children are being reliquished under these laws?
The difference between the Nebraska law and these other laws is all other states have an age limit - ranging from 3 days to 1 year old. See The National Center of States Courts Safe Haven Legislation Chart (2003). In the first two months of the Nebraska law, the majority of children abandoned were teenagers, 90% of whome were previously involved in some type of mental health services and over half of which were at one time, or currently are wards of the state. See more statistics about the children from this report from Nebraska station KOLN/KGIN's website.
Q. Why were these laws passed?
A. The laws were passed to prevent newborns from being killed or abandoned in unsafe conditions. "The advocates of these laws believe that lives will be saved, crimes will be prevented from occurring, and more infants will be available for adoption. Others have argued that these laws may not work, because the women who commit neonaticide often deny or conceal that they are pregnant, and do not arrange for the birthing process or for the care of the child after the birth. [Other researchers] have argued that women who commit neonaticide usually do so in a state of panic and fear, so it is unlikely that they will be sufficiently calm to consider dropping off their newborn in a designated safe place. National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center, Discarded Infants and Neonaticide: A Review of the Literature 9 (2004)(citations omitted)
Q. What happens to the parents who have abandoned their children under these laws?
A. All safe haven laws provide some form of anonymity for the relinquishing parent and so no authorities make no attempt to identify or locate that person, though some states do allow authorities to ask for medical information from the relinquishing parent. Most states do require verification that the infant has not been reported as a missing child, and some states require a public notice or a search for the non-relinquishing parent (nearly always the father). All safe haven laws also provide some form of defense or immunity from criminal prosecution.
Q. What is a parent's rights or responsibilities if they have relinquished a child under these laws?
A. Generally, the parent is presumed to have abandoned the child. Abandonment is a basis for termination of parental rights. National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center, Expediting Permanency for Abandoned Infants 7 (UC Berkeley 2007). The Nebraska law is particularly vague on the impact of a parent's abandonment under the safe haven law -- apart from providing for immunity from criminal prosecution, it's simply unclear what happens next to these children. Read more about the problem in this Wall Street Journal article.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Family Law Prof Blog previously drew your attention to an interesting op-ed by two Family Law Prof colleagues, June Carbone of University of Missouri-Kansas City and Naomi Cahn of George Washington University, in STLtoday.com, from St. Louis. (September 5, 2008).
Now The New Yorker's November 3, 2008 issue features Margaret Talbot's article, Red Sex, Blue Sex: Why do so many evangelical teen-agers become pregnant, quoting from Naomi Cahn and June Carbone. Talbot writes:
Two family-law scholars, Naomi Cahn, of George Washington University, and June Carbone, of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, are writing a book on the subject, and they argue that “red families” and “blue families” are “living different lives, with different moral imperatives.” (They emphasize that the Republican-Democrat divide is less important than the higher concentration of “moral-values voters” in red states.) In 2004, the states with the highest divorce rates were Nevada, Arkansas, Wyoming, Idaho, and West Virginia (all red states in the 2004 election); those with the lowest were Illinois, Massachusetts, Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey. The highest teen-pregnancy rates were in Nevada, Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas (all red); the lowest were in North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Maine (blue except for North Dakota). “The ‘blue states’ of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have lower teen birthrates, higher use of abortion, and lower percentages of teen births within marriage,” Cahn and Carbone observe. They also note that people start families earlier in red states—in part because they are more inclined to deal with an unplanned pregnancy by marrying rather than by seeking an abortion.
It's great to see Family Law Profs being part of this important conversation!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Nebraska's "safe-haven" law which allows parents to abandon children at hospitals without being prosecuted has been garnering lots of news. The reason? While other states have similar laws, other states also have an age-limit. Nebraska's law does not. So parents can abandon their teenagers - no need for a "person in need of supervision" or other proceeding.
Legislators are supposedly going to close the "loophole."
Monday, October 13, 2008
An Ohio newspaper is reporting a 15 year old girl who may be adjudicated a sex offender and who has been charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, a second-degree felony; and possession of criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony. Her acts? Using her cell phone to send nude photos of herself to other teenagers. The story is here.
(Thanks Feminist Philosophers blog!)
Monday, September 29, 2008
Writing on Domestic Violence? Juvenile Justice? Sex Offenses? Focused on NYC?
New York City Law Review: A Call for Papers
The Legal System’s Response to Violence in New York City
The New York City Law Review -- a student-run law journal based out of the City University of New York School of Law – is currently seeking papers for our Spring 2009 symposium on the legal system’s response to violent behavior. With a particular emphasis on violent behavior within New York City, we will critically explore the increase in criminalization, mandatory arrests, and zero tolerance policies through four panels on the areas of domestic violence, sex offenses, juvenile justice, and police brutality. We will be highlighting progressive legal responses within the present legal system, as well as ideas for new responses both within and without the legal framework.
The symposium will take place on February 13, 2009 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.
If you are interested in submitting a paper, please email
by November 1, 2008 with your name, school or organizational affiliation, and an abstract of no more than 250 words describing your article. Selected authors may be invited to serve as panelists at the symposium. Selected articles will be published in the spring of 2009. All completed articles must be submitted by January 1, 2009.
(RR September 29, 2008)