Mission & History
Keeping Families Together Since 2002
Our mission is to keep families together. We provide legal and social work services to primarily Black and Brown families at risk of separation through foster care or juvenile incarceration. CFR defends parents accused by the City of creating a risk to their children, and defends youth charged with a crime, always with the goal of eliminating the harm of foster care and juvenile incarceration. Youth who experience lengthy stays in foster care fare poorly, as do those who are jailed, with poor educational and mental health outcomes and greater risk of homelessness and criminal justice involvement as adults. We believe families and youth are better served with supportive services in their communities and legal and social work advocacy designed to keep families together and stable.
CFR has been the primary and largest provider of family defense to indigent parents in Manhattan since 2007 and in Queens since 2011. We assign every parent a family defense team comprised of an attorney, a social worker, and a “parent advocate” – our parent advocates are trained professionals who had experience being investigated for maltreatment, being prosecuted in family court, losing their children to foster care and successfully reunifying their families. Attorneys represent parents in family court to insure that the City meets its legal obligations to families; social workers connect parents with needed services, such as counseling or day care; and parent advocates mentor our clients and provide emotional support. In late 2015, we expanded our work to provide families with additional holistic assistance in immigration, housing and public benefits, and criminal matters – to address issues that are collateral to their family court case, but which could undermine the family’s stability—this is our Home for Good Initiative. In 2019, we expanded the scope of our work by launching our Juvenile Justice Practice, representing young people in Manhattan and Queens criminal and family courts. That year we also began representing parents during an investigation—in order to prevent family separation and court prosecutions—and in hearings to help them increase their employment options, by amending their state records related to their family court case—this is our Community Advocacy Project. Recognized as a thought leader and a recognized expert, we provide training and technical assistance to over 500 practitioners annually throughout the country and engage in vigorous policy advocacy at all levels of government to promote justice for families and youth.
We work with approximately 2,400 clients each year including 1,000 new clients and consistently prevent more than 55% of our clients’ children from entering foster care or being incarcerated; for those who do enter foster care, our representation significantly shortens the length of stay. By avoiding or reducing the time children spend in foster care, CFR has saved the City over $48 million since 2007- and saved families untold heartache.
At CFR, we firmly believe that every family matters.