Effective Strategies for Courtroom Advocacy on Drug Use and Parenting by Dr. Ron Abrahams and Nancy Rosenbloom

ABA's  SPRING 2019 CONFERENCES COLLECTION 

Parent defenders know the challenges of working with pregnant and parenting women who are involved with the child welfare system because of allegations that they use drugs. The child welfare system can seem stacked against these mothers, often removing their babies and imposing expectations and timeframes that can be difficult to meet before reunification can occur. This article recommends a harm reduction approach to advocating for parents accused of child neglect or abuse related to drug or alcohol use. Parent advocates can use this information to educate judges and child welfare agency professionals about harm reduction strategies, and how they can keep families together while promoting good health care and minimizing court and child welfare agency involvement in families' lives.

 

The Families in Recovery Program

Since its inception in Canada 15 years ago, more than 1,500 women, their babies and families have benefited from the Families in Recovery (FIR) rooming-in program founded by Dr. Abrahams. It is the first combined care maternity unit in North America. The program supports women and their newborns to stabilize and withdraw from substances with the goal of keeping mothers and babies together to improve their health. The fundamental underpinning of FIR is that it is an "apprehension free space" where authorities do not remove children from their parents, and where the staff encourage breastfeeding for mother and baby to bond while supports are put into place for their discharge together from the hospital where they gave birth back into the community. This model has been shown to be cost effective, along with improving health outcomes for both children and mothers. The lessons learned from this work toward ensuring a "healthy sustainable community" provide the basis for this article.

Read the full article<https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_interest/child_law/resources/child_law_practiceonline/january---december-2019/effective-strategies-for-courtroom-advocacy-on-drug-use-and-pare/>

 

 

 

Published in Parents' Attorneys

Monitoring and evaluation are essential activities for making informed decisions and guiding improvements. This brief can help child welfare agency leaders, managers, and teams partner with evaluators and data analysts to monitor and evaluate the implementation and impact of a program or other intervention and apply findings over the course of the change and implementation process. 
Brief 

Capacity Building Center for States. 2019 https://go.usa.gov/xVYjS

Published in CIP Administration

Blog post written by Jerry MIlner, Acting Commissioner of the Children's Bureau, on what he has learned from listening to families involved with the child welfare system.

Rethinking Foster Care <https://rethinkingfostercare.blogspot.com/>

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Hope

<http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RethinkingFosterCare/~3/841sRlcZFAc/hope.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email>

 

Posted: 20 Aug 2019 09:37 AM PDT

 

*Hope*

 

A few days ago, I walked into a room full of young adults who had spent time in our foster care system, including some who had emancipated after many years. Entering a room full of folks who have experienced our foster care system personally is a familiar situation for me, and it’s one of the greatest privileges and joys of my job.  I meet and speak with as many young people and parents with lived experience as possible.  In fact, this group was the second group of young people I had meet with that day.

 

In looking around the room, I realized that I knew nearly all of the young people in the room*.  I mean I* *really knew them - *Kayla, Joshua, Diego, David, Leroy, Scout, Lupe, Eric-lee and so many others.  I had met these people on multiple occasions. We had been in meetings together, attended the same events, and had lots of conversation.  I had heard their stories, been in photos together, and befriended many on social media (the only reason I stay on social media).  I even mentor one of these young people as best I can although, truth be told, he should be mentoring me.

 

I was struck by the reality that in two short years, these incredible young people have become an indispensable part of my world.  Their experiences and wisdom are now integrated into my experience and wisdom - an unexpected gift.

 

As always, the staff of the organization or agency holding the meetings I attend thanked me profusely for making the time to attend, to listen to the young people, to make them a priority in my busy schedule, and so on.

 

When this happens I always smile politely and say what a pleasure it is, but the response swirling in my head is, *really*?  You’re *really *thanking me for doing this?

 

If listening to and making an effort to understand the voices of those we purport to serve are not our priorities, what should our priorities be?

 

If we do not make time to meet with them and give them the respect of a system that has alternately aided and failed them, what should we make time for?

 

If we do not use the wisdom and words that people with lived experience share with us to guide our decisions and polices, then what should guide them?

 

In early August, the Children’s Bureau issued Information Memorandum 19-03 that calls on the field to solicit and use the voices of parents and youth who have experienced the child welfare system first-hand.  We provided specific recommendations on how it can be done and why we believe it is foundational to our work.

 

It will not happen unless we consciously cede space for it to happen and commit every day to ensure their voices are sought out and heard.

 

It may not always be easy or comfortable to give up our thinking that *we know best* and to share decision-making with those whose lives are so deeply affected by our work.

 

It may not comport with our crisis-driven work days to step back and listen.

 

But the value that their voices bring to our programs and services and, ultimately on the outcomes they experience, outweighs the effort and discomfort.

 

A couple of days after that meeting, I walked into another room - this time in Nashville, Tennessee. I was there for another meeting to co-present with a parent with lived experience (who I also feel I know quite well) and a young woman with lived foster care experience (who I look forward to becoming better acquainted with).  My colleague, David Kelly, moderated the panel.  Midway through the session, he asked the three of us a very simple question - *what gives you hope for the future of our child welfare system?*

 

My response was simple.

 

The advocacy and strength of the young adults I met with a few days ago give me hope.

 

Shrounda and Christina, the two remarkable women seated to my left, give me hope.

 

Sharing the stage with *them*rather than other bureaucrats like myself gives me hope.

 

Knowing that their resilience and tenacity were stronger than the difficulties they faced gives me hope.

 

Knowing that they and others like them have answers to our hardest questions gives me hope.

 

Knowing that they are leaders in reshaping child welfare in our country gives me hope.

 

*Hope* *is a powerful thing*.


ABA Journal - August 13, 2019
Resolution 115C, declaring that the Indian Child Welfare Act is constitutional, was easily approved by the ABA House of Delegates on Tuesday. The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in 1978 to address the fact that states remove Indian children from their parents at high rates. Because those children were not often placed with members of their own tribes, that high rate was hurting tribes' ability to pass on their cultures to the next generation.

Also: Editorial: ICWA ruling a victory for tribes: https://www.tahlequahdailypress.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-icwa-ruling-a-victory-for-tribes/article_d70b9f12-6d72-5de7-a80b-3064a3f7ea6c.html

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/the-indian-child-welfare-resolution-115C

 

WNYC - August 14, 2019
The one-year filing period is known as a "look-back window," and allows victims to bring cases that used to be beyond the state's statute of limitations that legislators overhauled this year. Manhattan Assemblymember Yuh-line Niou is one of the people who voted for the new law, touting it at a news conference on Tuesday.

Also: Lawyers for victims of childhood abuse predict gut-wrenching stories in court (Includes video): https://www.whec.com/news/lawyers-for-victims-of-childhood-abuse-predict-gut-wrenching-stories-in-court/5456407/?cat=565
Also: Hundreds of child sex abuse victims to file civil suits (Includes video): https://wnyt.com/news/hundreds-of-child-sex-abuse-victims-to-file-civil-suits/5456200/?cat=10114
Also: Hundreds of lawsuits expected in New York after statute lifted on old child abuse cases: https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/457361-hundreds-of-lawsuits-expected-in-new-york-after-statute-lifted-on-old

https://www.npr.org/2019/08/14/750881986/adult-victims-of-childhood-sex-abuse-in-new-york-can-sue-alleged-abusers

 

"Earlier this summer the Children’s Bureau convened teams of up to ten individuals from every state, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to chart a new course for child welfare in the United States: strengthening families through primary prevention of child maltreatment and family disruption. The teams included representatives from the state child welfare agency, the legal and judicial community, and prevention partners. The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss and begin planning what child welfare system partners can do together to support primary prevention—to work upstream to address the root causes that make foster care necessary in the first place."

The full document is attached so that you can review the full article by Commissioner Jerry Milner and David Kelly.

Fall 2018 - National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Published in Judges

Introduction

The relationship with a parent or primary caregiver is critical to a child’s sense of self, safety, and trust. However, many children experience the loss of a caregiver, either permanently due to death, or for varying amounts of time due to other circumstances. Children may develop posttraumatic responses when separated from their caregiver. The following provides information and suggestions for helping children who experience traumatic separation from a caregiver.

Access the full fact sheet

Children with Traumatic Separation: Information for Professionals

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

www.NCTSN.org

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Over 45 million children in the United States are affected by violence, crime, abuse, or psychological trauma each year, and many of them will become involved in the juvenile justice system. The majority of youth involved with the justice system (70-90%) have been exposed to trauma. The trauma experienced by justice-involved youth is often in multiple forms including, but not limited to, physical or sexual abuse, neglect, family and/or community violence, sex trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation, or loss of loved ones. Childhood exposure to violence and other traumatic events is a risk factor for arrest in adolescence, and youth with prior trauma exposure and related symptoms experience worse legal outcomes compared to youth without such a history.

Further, many youth experience additional stresses after entering the justice system apart from the inherent stress of the court interaction, including exposure to violence in detention/correctional facilities; infliction of harsh or invasive security practices such as shackling and other forms of physical restraint, punitive isolation, and strip searches; and separation from family, friends, and community. Collectively, these additional stressors are sometimes referred to as system-induced trauma. Some juvenile justice-involved youth may also be dually-involved with the child welfare system (i.e., dual system youth). It is important to keep in mind how involvement in both systems may affect youth, psychologically and legally.

This resource is intended to provide juvenile defense attorneys with an increased understanding of what trauma-informed legal advocacy entails, how trauma impacts child development, the attorney-client relationship, family and caregivers, and attorneys themselves. Additionally, this resource addresses screening and assessment, information sharing, transitions and placement decisions, and effective treatments for traumatic stress. Within each topic area, strategies for integrating this knowledge into legal advocacy (“Practice Tips”) are offered. Finally, this resource is intended to help you understand your role as the gatekeeper of trauma-based information for your client and support judiciously choosing how and when to use this information to best advocate for your client. Trauma-informed legal practice can strengthen legal advocacy, improve attorney-client relationships, and ultimately improve outcomes for youth. Additionally, awareness of secondary traumatic stress can improve prevention, identification, and self-care among legal professionals.

Access the full bulletin

Published in Attorneys

The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) became law in February 2018. FFPSA is a landmark child welfare law with the potential to establish significant changes in how the child welfare system is funded and operates across the country. Provisions especially relevant to the legal community are:

Click here for the ABA chart.

Published in Law and Best Practices

OJJDP Releases Findings From Study on Dual System Youth

Corrections Connection - April 28, 2019

Youth who have been involved with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems-commonly known as "dual system youth"-often are not recognized and do not receive services targeted to their individual needs because of challenges in cross-system communication and collaboration. In an effort to address these challenges, in 2015 OJJDP launched a data collection and analysis project, the Dual System Youth Design Study, led by Denise Herz, Ph.D., and Carly Dierkhising, Ph.D., of California State University, Los Angeles.

Also: OJJDP Design Study of Dual System Youth: https://www.ojjdp.gov/research/design-study-of-dual-system-youth.html

http://www.corrections.com/news/article/50380-research-central-ojjdp-releases-find

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