How to stay involved in your child’s education when your child is in foster care

Erika Palmer, a staff attorney at Advocates for Children in New York City, explains parents’ rights to stay involved in their children’s education while their children are in foster care. Advocates for Children’s special project on foster care guides parents and child welfare agencies on educational decision-making for children in care. 1. Keep in Contact With the School Parents should know that, even if you can’t have unsupervised contact with your children when they enter foster care, you can still go to their schools, talk to their teachers, or get any school documents unless there’s a court order saying you can’t have contact with the school. Also, the child protective agency is required to do school visits, and these visits should involve the parent. Finally, if the child changes schools after entering foster care, the parent should be involved in that decision. When children enter foster care, there’s nothing legally [...]

By | August 15th, 2014|Blog|Comments Off on How to stay involved in your child’s education when your child is in foster care

Making The Most Of Visitation

“Visiting between parents and their children in foster care is generally considered to be the most important factor contributing toward timely reunification. Visiting maintains the connection between parents and child during placement and allows the worker to assess the readiness of parent and child for reunification.” —From: Many biological parents feel a tremendous amount of pressure walking into the visitation each week. All eyes are on you to see how you will perform your parental duties with your children.  It really doesn’t seem like a recipe for success when you know the way you care for your children over the next two hours can help or hurt your chances of getting them back.  People don’t act themselves under that much scrutiny.  Then, it only adds to your tension to see your children wearing clothes that aren’t the ones you bought or a new haircut. They almost feel as if [...]

By | August 15th, 2014|Blog|Comments Off on Making The Most Of Visitation

It’s A Jungle Out There

Coming Soon... Recent video shoot at Cincinnati Zoo with Ron Evans, the zookeeper who oversaw the care and transition of Gladys the baby gorilla neglected by her biological mother. Humans share 98% DNA with gorillas. What might we learn from 'the happiest animal in the zoo'? Stay tuned  for the premier on  

By | August 14th, 2014|Blog|Comments Off on It’s A Jungle Out There

Fostering Empathy

em·pa·thy noun \ˈem-pə-thē\ : the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions : the ability to share someone else's feelings. —Merriam Webster "Does anyone understand how I feel?" This can be said by anyone engaged in the system every day: foster child, caseworker, biological and/or foster parent.  Each party involved in the child protection system feels at times that they are misunderstood or not being heard.  It is so important for each of us to work hard to put ourselves in the shoes of the other so that we can work most effectively for the greater good of the only one who didn't choose to be in it: the child. Foster children often feel that no one cares what they think about decisions being made on their behalf.  We might ask them, but do we really want to know and do we really listen? Do we think about how the [...]

By | August 13th, 2014|Blog|Comments Off on Fostering Empathy

U.S. Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities vs. U.S. Combined Military Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2001-2010

 Child maltreatment deaths in US* Combined US military deaths during 2 wars** Imagine if we harnessed our best thinking, resources, and passion around protecting children from abuse or neglect. How would we change their lives; and ours? For Them: Better school performance Increased physical health and wellness Reduced risk of mental health problems Increased chance of lifelong success Stability, comfort, love, and a chance for a happy childhood AND future For Us: Lower health care costs Lower crime rates Increased vibrancy and health of our communities Healthier economy Sense of purpose and meaning Sounds like a WIN-WIN!! We can totally do this. And you can help!   * Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, “Child Maltreatment , 2001-2010” **  Coalition Military Fatalities By Year and Month – Operation Enduring Freedom and Coalition Military Fatalities By Year – Operation Iraqi Freedom. [...]

By | August 8th, 2014|A, Blog|Comments Off on U.S. Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities vs. U.S. Combined Military Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2001-2010

A Foster Parent’s Fears

What is there to be afraid of? Ask any foster parent that question and they can easily pull about five things off the top of their head. Losing the child they have grown to love. Being accused of hurting a child in their home Losing their license for inadvertantly not following a rule or regulation Having a child placed in your home that doesn't fit your family Having a child in your home that hurts a family member Having a child with issues you are not prepared to deal with Will there be repercussions from the biological family Just to name a few! These are weighty issues to say the least and most insiders as well as outsiders often ask, "How do you get past the fears?" The truth is, fear can easily paralyze us. The trick is to acknowledge it and let it inform our decisions. I tell people to spend some [...]

By | August 8th, 2014|Blog|Comments Off on A Foster Parent’s Fears

Part 2: Child Protection System Crash Course

Who’s Who in the Zoo? I couldn’t resist. If you’ve ever sat in juvenile court for any length of time, you know what I mean. It can feel like a zoo. Here’s who’s at the table: The parents or prior custodians (sometimes is a relative like an aunt or uncle). The child who is supposed to be the most important player. There are lots of laws that govern the decisions regarding reunification of families (parents and kids) but the one that should trump all is the best interest of the child. The caseworker. For more info on what this job entails, visit The foster parents or other substitute caregivers (such as extended family) The court players: The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) for the child. Guardian ad Litem is Latin for ‘guardian in the meantime’. This person may or may not be an attorney. The GAL is responsible for representing [...]

By | August 8th, 2014|Blog|Comments Off on Part 2: Child Protection System Crash Course

Part 1: Child Protection System Crash Course

How a Child Becomes Yours (and every other taxpayer’s) Child is suspected of being abused, neglected of basic needs, or dependent without proper care and supervision. Someone (teacher, neighbor, coach, relative, or anonymous) calls child protective services (CPS) to report it. CPS decides if the call warrants a full investigation according to the law. For example, corporal discipline is not child abuse unless it leaves a visible injury on the child (bruise, welt, abrasion). If the caseworker assigned investigates and feels the child is at imminent risk of harm (OMG something horrible awful might happen to this kid RIGHT NOW unless we get him or her to a safe place), the caseworker will consult with an attorney. The attorney representing the caseworker from CPS will file a motion in COURT and seek custody so that CPS can remove a child from a dangerous situation.  VERY IMPORTANT FACT: ONLY A COURT [...]

By | August 7th, 2014|Blog|Comments Off on Part 1: Child Protection System Crash Course

Who Stole The Kid?

I’ve heard parents and family members say that children’s services stole their kids. I’m pretty sure caseworkers don’t have sticky fingers. Even if they did, kids are pretty hard to steal. Some people think children’s services can walk right into a home, snatch kids away from their parents, and never look back. Not true. Only a court order allows a caseworker to remove a child from a home. That court order is only issued once an attorney representing the caseworker has filed a motion in court and a judge has ruled on it. So if anyone really was stealing a child, it would be the judge acting through the caseworker. When I was 22 and a CPS caseworker, I removed a nine-month-old from his parents. It was ugly. Dad was violent and abusing mom, mom was mentally ill and not taking her meds, and the walls of their apartment were [...]

By | August 7th, 2014|Blog|Comments Off on Who Stole The Kid?

What To Inspect When You’re Inspecting

Conducting a home visit is the most important duty a caseworker performs. Capturing as much information as possible is critical when it comes to making decisions about the safety and well-being of children. Two different professionals can visit the same home on the same day an hour apart and come away with completely different ideas of whether the home is safe for the kids living in it. Case in point: As a GAL, I popped in to do an unannounced home visit on a Monday morning after bio mom’s unsupervised weekend visit with her three kids under age 5. Children’s services had custody of the boys who were placed with their grandparents. Though it had a foul odor, the apartment appeared clean and tidy as we sat in the living room and caught up on all things related to how the weekend went and what she was planning to do [...]

By | August 6th, 2014|Blog|Comments Off on What To Inspect When You’re Inspecting