Fighting for Families and Youth
Changing the System
Case Summary: In re Tai-Gi K. Q.-N. B.
In this case CFR represented Nadine B. in an appeal from the family court order terminating her parental rights to her son Tai-Gi. The case originally came in as a neglect proceeding when Nadine, who was 19 years old, left her newborn son Tai-Gi in the care of a friend but did not stay in contact with her friend or make a more permanent plan for his care. Tai-Gi was placed in foster care with the same family friend.
Although it took Nadine time to start planning in earnest for her son’s return, by July 2016 she had completed her service plan, obtained permanent housing, and was having overnight visits with her son. Later that year the family court trial discharged Tai-Gi to his mother over the foster care agency’s objection.
Because Nadine’s apartment was on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Tai-Gi’s school was near the foster home—miles away in Brownsville, Brooklyn—she and the foster parent agreed that Tai-Gi would spend school nights at the foster home to avoid the long commute. Nadine picked up her son from school every day and stayed with him at the foster parent’s home until she got home from work. Nadine also took Tai-Gi to her home every weekend.
Although the arrangement was safe and appropriate, the agency considered it a violation of the conditions of the trial discharge. When agency staff found out, they deemed the trial discharge unsuccessful and limited Nadine’s visits to a weekly two-hour supervised visit at the agency. Nadine was frustrated with the agency because she felt that the staff there had given up on her. At that point she didn’t fully cooperate with the agency, but she consistently attended her visits with Tai-Gi.
Only four months after deeming the trial discharge unsuccessful, the foster care agency filed a petition to terminate Nadine’s parental rights. After a contested trial, the family court made a finding of permanent neglect and terminated her parental rights. CFR appealed, arguing that Nadine had made an appropriate plan for her son—one that would have allowed her to take him into her full-time care after the school year ended—and that the agency had not made sufficient efforts to reunite the family before attempting to terminate Nadine’s parental rights.
In January 2020, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court reversed the family court order and restored Nadine’s parental rights, noting that during the trial discharge, the agency “did not provide any assistance with regard to transferring the child to a school closer to the mother in Manhattan, did not provide any assistance with the child’s transportation to and from his school in Brooklyn, and did not provide other appropriate services to the family.” The court also found that the foster care agency had not met its burden of proving that Nadine failed to plan for Tai-Gi’s future.