Fighting for Families and Youth
Changing the System
A Strategy for Improving the Laws that Impact CFR’s Clients
In New York State, parents, youth and other caretakers have the right to challenge court decisions through an appeal process and if they cannot afford an attorney, the right to have counsel appointed to represent them. Part of CFR’s work involves representing our clients on appeals to challenge decisions that we believe are mistaken; it’s one more way we fight for our clients.
And successful appeals can change the system: although we typically pursue an appeal to protect the rights of one individual or one family, the outcome usually binds many judges so that they can’t repeat the wrong for other parents and youth. For example, we won an appeal where a father was denied an emergency hearing when he was told to leave his home; because we won, many parents who face the same situation now can get a hearing. We can also challenge decisions that may reflect racial bias. We can also use appeals to contest court procedures that are unfair or don’t adequately protect clients’ rights.
Appeals and COVID-19
We’ve used appeals to address the unique challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. For example, many foster system agencies abruptly canceled in-person visits for parents with their children and many in-person services are no longer available for clients. The Courts have delayed or denied many hearings. As a result, many parents are at risk of losing their parental rights permanently.