Thursday, January 3, 2013

Parents' Bill of Rights (includes both Mothers and Fathers)

 

We have created a Parents’ Bill of Rights describing the basic protection for all parents/caregivers who become involved in the child welfare system. Some of these rights are in Federal child welfare law and are therefore required in every state. Other rights may be upheld as standard practice in some but not all states. We are promoting all of these rights on moral grounds, to ensure positive outcomes for families involved in the child welfare system.

  1. Every parent has the right to culturally and linguistically appropriate education, housing, health and mental health, food and nutrition, financial, and parenting support needed to raise their children.
  2. Every parent has the right to get help when they ask for it, including immediate access to neighborhood and community support such as child care, health and mental health care, access to substance abuse programs, in-home services, that help them prevent removal of their children from their home.
  3. Every parent whose child is involved in the child welfare system has the right to receive support and help from a parent advocate (who has been involved in child protective services) to successfully navigate the system and advocate for their family.
  4. Every parent has the right to know why they are being investigated by the child protection system and the outcome of any investigation; to be provided with a clear and immediate explanation of every step of the child protection process, and their rights from the very beginning (including their right not to let the caseworker in when they knock on the door if they do not have a warrant), and to receive information on available assistance and help parents advocate for themselves and their family.
  5. Every parent has the right to an emergency hearing no later than 24 hours following their child’s removal from their home.
  6. Every parent has the right to fair treatment including due process protections (including the right to be present and bring witnesses to all proceedings, have an attorney, appeal agency decisions, and make complaints or raise concerns); equal treatment without regard to race, ethnicity, gender, disability, age, religion, economic status, family composition, or sexual orientation; access to immediate, affordable, high quality, competent, knowledgeable, and assertive legal representation, from the report through the investigation, court and “reunification” stages.
  7. Every parent who is being investigated by child protective services has the right to be considered “innocent until proven guilty,” not to be judged guilty by association, and not to be considered neglectful or abusive solely because they or their child has a disability or mental health need.
  8. Every parent has the right to speak for themselves and to be respectfully heard at every step of the child protective service processes.
  9. Every parent has the right to have fair and reasonable expectations with regard to the child welfare system; to have these expectations developed with, shared in writing with, and clearly explained to the parents in a manner they can understand, and receive the support needed to meet those expectations.
  10. Every parent whose child is involved in the child welfare system has the right to privacy (including keeping their records confidential unless they provide written parental consent), to access their own child and family records at any time at no cost, and to have their names expunged from any child protective services agency/central registry if there are no findings and/or after a reasonable amount of time after they have met all agency expectations.
  11. Every parent whose child is involved in the child welfare system has the right to convene a meeting within a reasonable amount of time (no later than a week) with the agency and interested parties.
  12. Every parent has the right to have their child/ren expeditiously placed with a family member or close family friend, identified in consultation with the parent, and have no “unreasonable” barriers placed in the way of having the child/ren placed with that family member or close family friend.
  13. Every parent whose child is involved in the child welfare system has the right to make decisions about their child’s education, health, mental health, religious education; be informed about the progress their child is making with regard to education, health and development, and about the people and/or services involved with their child; and accompany their child to school and medical visits, even while their child is in care.
  14. Every parent has the right to exercise their First Amendment rights, including the right to free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association, without being penalized by the child welfare system.
  15. Every parent has the right to see and communicate with their child every day while their child is in care, at times and locations that are convenient to the parent and at no cost to the parent.

© 2009, National Coalition for Parent Advocacy in Child Protective Services

This document is a work in progress. We invite comments from parents,
advocates and agencies as we shape this Bill of Rights that will one day be incorporated into state and federal laws to improve the CPS system.

When you become a member, you will be able to use your username and password to logon to this site and make comments. We are looking forward to your feedback and partnership to achieve the vision and mission we all believe in.