Policy & Advocacy

Policy Reform & Advocacy with the City & State

Fighting for Systemic Change

CFR is actively engaged in policy reform and advocacy to bring systemic change to the policies and laws that disproportionately impact families and youth, particularly the laws and policies that create racial harm to the mostly Black and Brown clients we serve. Altogether, CFR has more than 20 staff serving on 39 government commissions, task forces, and workgroups addressing reform.

CFR staff meet with elected officials (City and State), participate in coalitions with other parents, defenders and advocates, draft legislation, write and provide public testimony to City and State bodies, write op-eds and Letters to the Editor, and give Know Your Rights presentations to the community. Examples of CFR’s policy work include:

  • Advocacy that resulted in the passage of the State Central Register (SCR) Reform Bill that will eventually change the way the State keeps records on parents like CFR’s clients, so that their records of child welfare involvement will not prevent them from securing appropriate jobs;
  • Advocacy with New York City Council that helped CFR create our Community Advocacy Project that represents parents during ACS investigations (ACS is the New York City Administration for Children’s Services) and in SCR proceedings; we partnered with other family defense providers and parents to write a  joint memo of support for the Bill that made this possible.
  • Collaboration with staff from our criminal and juvenile justice practices to write a Memo advocating for legislation to Repeal 50-a, a section of the New York Civil Rights Law that deems the “personnel records” of police officers, firefighters and corrections officers “confidential and not subject to inspection or review” without the officer’s permission. The repeal was signed into law in June 2020, bringing greater accountability for police by making personnel records public. We believe it will also assist our clients in their criminal and delinquency cases.
  • Publishing op-eds to change the narrative around our clients and to message about how the family regulation systems harm and undermine the families we serve. CFR wrote three position papers in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and to speak out about the systemic racism in our City’s criminal, child welfare and juvenile justice systems. These statements were posted on social media and our website and were emailed to all of CFR’s stakeholders.

Additional anti-racist leadership and policy work includes CFR’s Immigration Supervisor co-chairing the ACS Immigration Roundtable, a work group that addresses services for immigrant parents, routine ACS actions that can have unintended immigration consequences, language access, and protecting sensitive immigration information. And CFR Parent Advocates serve on the newly established ACS Parent Advisory Council (PAC), created to give parents a voice in impacting ACS policy and programming.

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