ABA National Conference on Parent Representation

Hosted by the ABA with the National Alliance for Parent Representation, this event is designed for advocates who focus on parent advocacy in the child welfare system. The agenda of workshops, facilitated small group discussions, and plenary sessions will move the parent representation practice forward and improve outcomes for children and families.

Conference faculty includes the following CFR staff:

  • Malena Arnaud, MSW
  • Michele Cortese, JD
  • Teyora Graves-Ferrell, BA
  • Hope Newton, BS
  • Anastasia Rivera-Bonilla, JD

View the full agenda and register here.


Below are the workshops that CFR staff are participating in:

At the Front Door: “Early Defense” Advocacy to Support Parents

Increasingly, advocates and policy makers recognize that providing advocacy to parents during a child protective investigation can be a successful avenue to avoiding family separation and court prosecution. This workshop will focus on community outreach and education for parents, partnering with parents to assess their needs and goals for their families, asserting parents’ rights during an investigation, and challenging child protective workers when parents disagree with services required by a worker. The workshop will also focus on assessing and addressing needed advocacy that is collateral to but may be related to the investigation, such as in the areas of housing, immigration, public benefits and food security. Finally, the workshop will address strategies for building support for early defense work with local leadership and relevant child protective, political and judicial leaders.

  • Jeyanthi Rajaraman, JD, Public Knowledge, Family Justice and Integrity Works
  • Malena Arnaud, MSW, Center for Family Representation
  • Leah Curran, JD, Neighborhood Legal Services Program of DC
  • Itta Englander, JD, Neighborhood Legal Services Program of DC
  • Iesha Hammons, Parent Ally, Legal Services of New Jersey


The Role of Parents in Education: Rights after Removal

Join this session to learn about the laws and policies surrounding a parent’s right to be involved in education including education decision making, special education, and residual rights. A parent advocate will give advocacy tips and strategies.

  • Hope Newton, BS, CPC, Parent Advocate, Center for Family Representation
  • Emily Peeler, JD, MSW, ABA Center on Children and the Law
  • Jamie Schulte, JD, Legal Aid Chicago


When Parents Object to Psychiatric Medication: Psychiatric and Legal Issues

Multiple studies have concluded that children in foster care are prescribed psychiatric medication at a rate significantly higher than other populations of children. Often, parents are asked to consent to these medications without being provide with true informed consent. Attorneys, legal team members and judges can play a vital role in reducing the overuse of medication. The discussion will focus on the “red flags” that can help them recognize situations where the child’s treatment with psychiatric medications may be problematic, parents’ objections are reasonable, valid and need to be heard and court interventions may need to be considered.

  • Martin Irwin, MD, New York University Grossman School of Medicine
  • Anastasia Rivera-Bonilla, JD, Center for Family Representation


Making the Dream Work: Routines to Enhance and Sustain Interdisciplinary Teamwork

This workshop will focus on routines related to communication, shared decision-making, and supervision to help interdisciplinary teams of attorneys, social workers and parent mentors do their best work for clients, in solo-attorney and agency settings.

  • Jillian Cohen, LCSW, CO Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel
  • Michele Cortese, JD, Center for Family Representation
  • Teyora Graves-Ferrell, Parent Advocate Supervisor, BA, Center for Family Representation