Having a Child Protection Lawyer on Your Side Can Protect Your Rights

Allegations of child abuse and neglect can have life-changing consequences. They can tear families apart and impact a parent’s relationship with their children.

An experienced NYC child protection lawyer can help you navigate this process, fight for your rights and protect your parental relationship. Here are some things to look for when choosing a child protection lawyer:

Proactive Preparation

Every year, millions of American parents find themselves in the crosshairs of child protective investigations. These can disrupt families, invade their privacy and lead to years of stressful legal proceedings. Whether false allegations, overreaction by neighbors or friends, or genuine neglect, a single report to a local CPS agency can change a family’s lives forever.

A child protection lawyer can help protect parental rights by providing guidance on interacting with investigators, ensuring compliance with court-ordered services and advocating for clients in hearings. They can also provide support during a difficult and emotionally draining time.

While each state has its own laws and policies, USA TODAY interviewed attorneys who specialize in child welfare cases to get their thoughts on what parents can do to prepare for an investigation. Some suggestions include taking a parenting class and seeing a family therapist, showing that you are willing to address whatever issues may have led to the complaint. It is also important to be proactive and call a family lawyer promptly.

Early Intervention

Often, children who have developmental delays or disabilities are identified before they even leave the hospital. This is because of a program known as Child Find, which operates in every state to identify infants and toddlers who might need early intervention services.

When a child is referred to early intervention, a service coordinator will meet with the family to explain what services are available and begin an evaluation to determine whether the child qualifies. The evaluations focus on three core areas – physical development (such as walking and talking), cognitive development (thinking and learning) and social-emotional development (how the child behaves).

If a child is eligible, the service coordinator will create an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) that outlines the specific services to be provided. IFSPs must be written with the parents’ participation and consent. In some cases, the IFSP will identify other services that could help your child. These include: financial information and parenting support.

Courtroom Representation

Allegations of child abuse or neglect can quickly escalate into a civil case, criminal investigation, and a Family Court proceeding. Having an experienced NYC child protection lawyer on your side will make sure your rights are protected in this challenging time.

The Children’s Law Center provides legal services for children in a variety of child protection cases including custody, visitation, guardianship, termination of parental rights and PINS (person in need of supervision) petitions. The CLC also has an appellate clinic through which volunteer attorneys assist with child protection appeals.

The Children’s Law Center also has a community partnership with six New York City schools through which students work in the school-based clinic. The CLC recruits and trains students from local law firms to participate in this project. Law firms that participate include Cravath, Swaine & Moore; LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae; WilmerHale; Simpson Thacher & Barlett; and Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel. The CLC also has a Post Termination Review Project through which attorneys represent children in proceedings to determine whether they should remain in foster care or be freed for adoption.

Expertise

Allegations of child abuse or neglect are incredibly serious and can have significant consequences. Even if they are unfounded, the mere fact of being accused can tear apart families and damage parents’ relationships with their children.

CPS investigations can involve looking at a range of factors, including the safety of the home, whether the child is able to get help, and how often the parent tries to do right by their kids. If a caseworker decides that the child is in danger, they can ask to remove the child from the family.

Attorneys in the Family Services Division provide legal representation for children and indigent parents in care & protection proceedings and related juvenile matters in Superior Court. They ensure that these clients and their appointed guardians ad litem have high quality, competent and zealous representation. They also work to improve the system through reform, training and community outreach. These efforts are crucial to ensuring that children are receiving the best possible outcome.

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