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
Friday, 23 August 2019 23:18

Strategy Brief: Strong Families

How does high-quality legal representation for parents support better outcomes?

Quality legal representation in court is an essential safeguard to ensure that pertinent information is conveyed to the court, all parties’ legal rights are well protected, and the wishes and needs of all parties are effectively voiced. In turn, this helps judges make the best, most informed decisions possible in every case.

However, parents facing the potential loss of their children in dependency courts across the country are not afforded the same universal right to counsel as defendants in criminal proceedings. Access to representation for parents involved with the child welfare system who cannot afford to hire a private attorney varies from state to state — and the quality of that representation, when provided, varies even more.

Read the full article from Casey Family Programs: https://caseyfamilypro-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/media/SF_Quality-parent-representation_fnl.pdf

 

Published in Parents' 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

The ABA Center on Children and the Law is excited to share that the Family Justice Initiative (FJI) website has launched! The FJI is comprised of a diverse team of partners located throughout the country who are working collaboratively with, the ABA Center on Children and the Law, Children's Law Center of California, the Center for Family Representation, and Casey Family Programs to ensure that every child and every parent has high-quality legal representation when child welfare courts make life-changing decisions about their families. The website is an informative and interactive way to share important information, updates, and resources with child welfare practitioners across the country. Visit the FJI website to learn how you can become a part of the movement! www.familyjusticeinitiative.org<http://www.familyjusticeinitiative.org>

For more information: 

Mimi Laver

Director, Legal Representation

ABA Center on Children and the Law

1050 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 400

Washington, DC 20036

202-662-1736

Access to Justice for Children and Families [sigline-register now (002)]

Published in Parents' Attorneys

The attached article is an excellent summary of concerns about Child Abuse Pediatric practice with some strong and well-grounded recommendations for improvements in practice (including recommendations that are consistent with Diane Redleaf's book <https://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=A5865C>and the report on Medical Ethics Concerns in Physical Child Abuse Investigations <https://www.familydefensecenter.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Medical-Ethics-Concerns-in-Physical-Child-Abuse-Investigations-corrected-reposted.pdf>.

It was written by Andrew Brown who co-chairs United Family Advocates and Diane Redleaf and leads child and family advocacy at Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Andrew has been involved in legislative reform efforts in this area and in child welfare generally in Texas and it is exciting to see this area of our work starting to get some significant attention.

Diane Redleaf

 

Author, *They Took the Kids Last Night: How the Child Protection System Puts Families At Risk (ABC-Clio (Praeger, October 2018);*

 

Founder, Executive Director, Legal Director, Family Defense Center, Chicago IL(2005-2017);

 

Principal, Family Defense Consulting: providing consultation to attorneys and advocates in the child  welfare system, expert witness services, individual advice and referrals to families, and public speaking and writing on topics related to family rights and issues in the child welfare system;

 

Co-chair, United Family Advocates (national policy advocacy coalition);

 

Award-winning non-profit leader.

Published in Parents' Attorneys

The ABA Center on Children and the Law, in collaboration with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, is pleased to announce the release of "TRAUMA: What Child Welfare Attorneys Should Know." This resource provides practical information about trauma-informed legal advocacy by attorneys representing children, parents, and child welfare agencies.

In furtherance of the American Bar Association's policy on trauma-informed legal practice, this resource can strengthen advocacy, improve attorney-client relationships, and promote appropriate screening, in-depth assessment, and evidence-based treatment. In addition, awareness of secondary traumatic stress can improve prevention, identification, and self-care among legal professionals.

The resource was developed by the NCTSN Justice Consortium Attorney Work Group, co-chaired by Christopher Branson, Ph.D., Carly Baetz, JD, Ph.D., and Eva Klain, JD (ABA Center on Children and the Law).

Published in Attorneys

Protecting Children with Disabilities from Sexual Assault - A Parent's Guide

Written by
Marcie Davis and Scott J. Modell, Ph.D.
Published by
New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs Inc.

Individuals with disabilities experience victimization of violent crimes at greater rates than those without disabilities. Sorensen (2002) reported that major crimes against people with disabilities are underreported when compared to the general population and estimated that individuals with disabilities are over four times more likely to be victims of crime than are people without disabilities. The risk of being a victim of crime, especially a victim of sexual assault, is 4 to 10 times higher for someone with a disability. Research studies (Powers, 2004; Nosek, 2001; Sobsey, 1994; Petersilia, 1998; Waxman, 1991) consistently report that there is a very high rate of sexual violence against people with physical and cognitive disabilities, as well as, those with significant speech/communication disabilities.


Furthermore, the risk of sexual violence appears to increase with the degree of disability (Sobsey & Varnhagen, 1988). Compounding the physical and mental trauma of violence, crime victims with disabilities are less likely to seek medical attention and report the victimization to law enforcement due to limited access to the criminal justice system.

 

Read the full document - click on the attached file. 

Most children involved in child welfare systems, and the overwhelming majority of children placed in out-of-home care, have a parent with an alcohol or other substance use disorder. Here is a 2-page information flyer from Children & Family Futures. 

Published in Children's Justice Act