Policy & Advocacy

Policy Reform & Advocacy with the City & State

Op-eds and Letters to the Editor

The Imprint: New York City Must Provide WiFi to Homeless Families

January 10, 2021

Charlotte Baughman, Senior Social Worker at CFR, has published an article in The Imprint entitled, “New York City Must Provide WiFi to Homeless Families.” Here is an excerpt from the article:

“The consequences of the city’s failure to address the urgent need for WiFi in shelters extend beyond children falling behind in school. On top of being homeless during a global pandemic, families living in shelters are now at increased risk of being investigated for educational neglect. About a fourth of families residing in shelters already have open cases with the city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). At particular risk are families of color, who are disproportionately investigated for child maltreatment.”

Read the full article here.

The New York Times: Letter to the Editor re “Parents’ Little Helpers”

October 9, 2020

Tehra Coles, CFR’s Litigation Supervisor for Policy and Government Affairs wrote a powerful Letter to the Editor that was published October 9th. It was in response to two articles in the NYTimes—one about parents drinking and smoking pot to deal with the “hellscape” of parenting in the pandemic, the other, a specific call from the Times to hear from “Black Parents” about how they are coping raising their children. Here is an excerpt from the letter:

“To be a Black mother is to be in a constant state of alertness when it comes to protecting your family from the government. As a Black woman, mother and lawyer, I am no different in that regard.”

Read the full letter to the editor here.

The Imprint: The Sad Omission of Child Welfare from Mainstream Discussion on Race

August 6, 2020

Tehra Coles, Litigation Supervisor, Government Affairs and Policy at CFR, along with Zainab Akbar (NDS), Emma Ketteringham (Bronx Defenders), and Lauren Shapiro (Brooklyn Defenders), co-authored an op-ed entitled, “The Sad Omission of Child Welfare from Mainstream Discussion on Race,” that was published in The Imprint. Here is an excerpt from the article:

“The so-called child welfare system suffers from the same structural racism as the police and destroys Black and brown lives through family separation and government surveillance. Family separation is violence. It’s time to see the similarities between these two systems and the need for change.”

Read the full article here.

Hartford Courant: Fresh Talk: During the coronavirus crisis, struggling families need support, not surveillance

May 20, 2020

Molly Turro, Staff Social Worker at CFR, has an op-ed entitled, “During the coronavirus crisis, struggling families need support, not surveillance,” published in the Hartford Courant. Here is a quote from the article:

“This pandemic is undoubtedly most difficult for those living in poverty, and rather than providing material relief or emotional support, child protective services tend to take an accusatory or investigative role. All of the clients that we represent are living in poverty.”

Read the full article here.

New York Daily News: Protecting children in the age of COVID: The Administration for Children’s Services must change its approach

May 2, 2020

Michele Cortese, Executive Director at CFR, along with Emma Ketteringham (Bronx Defenders), Lauren Shapiro (Brooklyn Defenders), and Zainab Akbar (NDS), co-authored an op-ed entitled, “Protecting Children in the Time of COVID: The Administration for Children’s Service must change it’s approach,” that was published in the New York Daily News.

The piece addresses the need for decision makers to stop using family separation as a means of addressing what are really issues of poverty as well as the importance of visitation and the impact that the virus is having on child welfare involved parents.

Read the full article here.

New York Daily News: Poor and at risk of losing their kids: Moms and dads under ACS investigation deserve more legal help

December 14, 2019

An Op-Ed written by Michele Cortese, Executive Director, and Tehra Coles, Litigation Supervisor, Government Affairs and Policy at CFR, and entitled, “Poor and at risk of losing their kids: Moms and dads under ACS investigation deserve more legal help,” is published in the New York Daily News.

“Poor New Yorkers of color aren’t receiving the same access to justice that wealthy families do, and the city agency charged with supporting families, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), wants it to stay that way.”

Read the full article here.

City Limits: It’s Time to Provide Legal Help to Families Facing Child-Welfare Probes

January 22, 2019

Michele Cortese, Executive Director, and Tehra Coles, Litigation Supervisor, Government Affairs and Policy at CFR, writes to the editor of City Limits in response to a recent article by Rachel Blustain about the movement to provide legal representation to parents during ACS investigations:

At the Center for Family Representation (CFR) we have defended close to 10,000 indigent parents who are summoned to family court by the city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). We applaud Rachel Blustain’s “New Push to Provide Legal Advice to Parents Facing Abuse and Neglect Investigations,” where she adeptly and comprehensively illuminates the heart-rending predicaments faced by parents being investigated by ACS, without the benefit of legal counsel.

Read the full response here.

The New York Times: Re: “Motherhood in the Age of Fear” by Kim Brooks

August 2, 2018

Michele Cortese, Executive Director of CFR, writes to the editor of The Times in response to the article, “Motherhood in the Age of Fear”:

Kim Brooks’s article is an important reminder of how swiftly and energetically mothers are demonized for making decisions many parents make at some point. Ms. Brooks states that this dynamic transcends race and class, but the experience for poor mothers (and fathers) of color is vastly different from that of the parents she describes.

Read the full response here.

The Daily Record: Commentary: Monroe County erred in turning down grant

January 24, 2018

Michele Cortese, Executive Director at CFR, provides her comments to The Daily Record on Monroe County turning down a $2.6 million grant. Here is an excerpt from the article:

“The suggestion by county officials that attorneys and social workers helping parents “early on” would lead to child intimidation and prevent caseworkers from monitoring families is blatantly untrue. Even when a parent has an attorney, caseworkers have the legal authority to take a child at risk, day or night. Attorneys cannot ethically interfere with a lawful investigation by intimidating anyone.”

Read the full article here.

Show More