Fighting for Families and Youth
Changing the System
Case Summary: In re Aaliyah J. (Tameia J.)
CFR places a great value on parenting time during a period of court-ordered separation of a parent and a child. Visiting is one of our “cornerstones of advocacy” conceived and described by attorney and CFR executive director Michele Cortese and social worker Jillian Cohen. Our experience has shown a direct link between frequent meaningful parenting time and successful reunification. That connection is especially critical given that it can take many months to rigorously defend a child neglect or abuse petition.
This was true for CFR’s client Tameia J., who gave birth to a child, Aaliyah, during the course of defending against an abuse case already filed regarding Aaliyah’s sister. ACS maintained that Tameia “derivatively abused” Aaliyah based on the allegations regarding her sister. Tameia eventually prevailed in having both cases against her dismissed after trial, but in the months leading up to that terrific result, her goal was to maintain the most natural relationship she could have with her children. While Tameia lived in Queens, her older daughter was placed in a relative’s home in the Bronx and Aaliyah was placed with Tameia’s sister in Brooklyn. This made it challenging to have a schedule for meaningful contact with both children. The CFR family defense team successfully advocated for Tameia to be able to stay overnight with Aaliyah and her aunt. This way, while her sister supervised the contact, Tameia would be able to bond with her baby during the months it ended up taking for the case to be resolved. ACS, however, appealed the decision and obtained a stay of the family court order, meaning that while the appeal was pending, Tameia could not have visits with her daughter, hindering progress toward reunification. But months later, the appellate division upheld the family court order and reinstated the visits, allowing Tameia to maintain as strong an emotional bond as possible with Aaliyah while we worked on and secured the dismissal.