Know Your Rights
Foster Parent Information
All foster parents should obtain this manual from your foster care agency.
This is located on the Administration for Children services website where you can print and download.
Information on Allegations
âAllegations that uncover licensing violations or substantiated abuse claims can cause additional stress. Depending on the severity of the infraction, foster parents may be placed on probation, be issued a correction order, or have their license temporarily suspended or permanently revoked. Serious allegations may result in a criminal charge that could land a parent in jail, and forever ruin chances of fostering or adopting another child.
The number one piece of advice I can give people who have been falsely reported for abuse or neglect is to hire a good lawyer or an advocate. (I am not a lawyer, by the way, so please don't take any advice from this website without consulting a lawyer first.) But don't just hire any lawyer. Your lawyer or advocate must be familiar with family law and social services law. He or she must also be aggressive. Child Protective caseworkers and social service lawyers are very aggressive, and they will run right over a mealy-mouthed lawyer. I know because it happened to the first lawyer that a foster parent obtain when the lawyer who was not familiar with family law. He took 4,000 and lost the case. Don't just pick a lawyer because you need one do your homework.
Here is the steps that foster parents need to take when CPS comes to your home to conduct a investigation. All of your constitutional rights are in force, and you need to maintain them.Get the investigator's name and business card if possible. Speak as little as possible and as politely as possible. Before closing the door, ask what the allegations are. CPS will not give you a copy of the report but will generally tell you what the allegations are. Ask the investigator to read the report to you and write it down word for word. Cooperate with them and answer all questions and let them talk to your children or any household members that live in the home.
âââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââââWhat to do when CPS comes to your home?
Once CPS leaves you should contact Foster Parent Advocacy Foundation Inc or your attorney, begin gathering any evidence you can to refute the false charges. These may include medical, dental and psychiatric records. If the allegations involve abuse, ask your lawyer about getting your child an immediate physical examination with accompanying photographs. If the false allegations involve a specific day and time, try to remember what you were doing at that time. If you were with other people, call them and ask them to be witnesses.It's enormously important that you know all of your state's laws regarding Child Protective Services, neglect, abuse, as well as your rights under your state's constitution and the United States' constitution. Learning these laws now, before anyone falsely accuses you, will save you a lot of trouble in the future. And don't assume your lawyer knows the law. Make sure both you and he know the law.Whatever you do, keep records of everything. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of documenting everything if you have been falsely reported. Get a blank notebook. Record the date and time of every conversation you have with Child Protective Services caseworkers, every visit, every visit or phone call with your lawyer and any visits you make to your child's doctor or counselor. In short, document everything that might have any bearing on your case.
Foster Care agency Procedure:
Foster parents can request a Foster care conference only if the removal has not occurred. Foster parents should also request an Independent Review. Your agency is suppose to schedule a agency meeting with you no later then 5 days before they remove the child from your home unless it is a safety issue. During this time you are suppose to receive a written notification of removal form CS-701D 10-day notice form in writting from the caseworker. This form contains information explaining the reason for the removal and also provides information relating to the foster parents right to contest the decision by requesting a review
This form is given to you by your caseworker or staff member of the agency. Foster parents you are not to sign the form for any reason. You may waive your right for a hearing by signing this 10 day notice. Agency staff members will tell you to sign the 10 day notice but you are violating your rights by doing so. Section 443.5 provides foster parents may request a conference with the social services official or designee whenever a social service official or another authorized agency proposes to remove a child in a foster family care from the foster family home.
This conference is called Independent Review at such conference scheduled within 10 days of receipt of the request for the conference, the foster parents, with or without a representative,may appear to have the proposed action reviewed,be advised of the reason for the removal and be afforded an opportunity to submit reasons why child(ren) should not be removed. During this request the child shall not be removed unless it is a safety concern.
If you are a foster parent that did not receive a 10-day notice from the agency you will not know what steps to take next because the number is on the back of the 10 day notice to request a indenpedent special review hearing. Here is the number that you call listed below.You have 10 days to request this meeting. The agency will send you a letter with a decision within 5 days. If you do not agree with the decision you are to request this hearing by phone within 10 days or you can lose your right to have this meeting.
There are two types of removals
1- planned removals the foster parent must receive the notice at least 10 days of removal ,except where the health or safety of the child requires that the child be removed immediately from the foster home.
2-Emergency Removals- Notice of removal should be given at the time of the removal or as soon as is practicable thereafter( send by certified mail the next day.) The foster parent may request a Independent Review. Note the foster home cannot be closed until the Inpendent Review decision is rendered.
Independent Review Hearing Number- 212-676-9002
When you call the number you are to leave your name and number and someone will call you back to schedule this hearing. During this time you are to start collecting your documents for this hearing.
Appealing the decision of the Independent Review
After you receive the decision from the independent review and do not agree. You may request a New York State Fair Hearing by writing the Bureau of Special Hearings listed below.
Allegations The Untold Truth:What Foster Parents Need To Know
You are not alone FPA-Foundation is here for you
âWhat are my foster parents rights if I am named in a report?
If you are the alleged subject of a report, your county Child Protective Services (CPS) office is required by law to notify you of the report in writing. You are entitled to a copy of the report, however any information pertaining to the identity of the source will be redacted as will any information about those who assisted in the investigation if the release of that information might reasonably jeopardize the safety of such person.
You can request a copy of the record of the SCR by writing to:
State Central Register
P.O. Box 4480
Albany, NY 12204
The determination of the investigation will be either that the report is unfounded or indicated. If the report is unfounded, you will receive written notification from the Statewide Central Register. If the report is indicated, you will receive written notification from the local CPS (or investigative agency). This notice will also inform you of any right to appeal the decision of the investigative agency to indicate the report.
Persons who are subjects of child abuse or maltreatment reports are entitled to copies of information concerning themselves on file with the Statewide Central Register (SCR). Write to:
State Central Register
P.O. Box 4480
Albany, NY 12204
Please give your full name, date of birth, your children's names and dates of birth, and the address where you lived at the time you believe you may have been reported. If you know the case I.D., please include this information in your letter.Depending on the circumstances, you may still have the legal right to request that the report be amended or expunged (destroyed). Make your request in writing, and the reasons therefore, to the SCR, at the post office box listed above.
What can I do if someone has filed a false child abuse or maltreatment report against me with the Statewide Central Register?
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services takes false reports of child abuse and maltreatment very seriously. Both the taking of the false report and the ensuing investigation are a misuse of valuable resources intended for the care and protection of New York State's vulnerable or at-risk children.According to Section 240.50 of the New York State Penal Law, falsely reporting an incident to the State Central Register is a Class A misdemeanor. If you are the victim of a false report, you should contact your local District Attorney's office to discuss what options are available.
What do you do if after the hearing, you receive a decision from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, that your indicated report was upheld?
You can accept the report and live with it. However, that means your name will be in the State Central Register until your youngest child turns 28 years of age. This can affect you if you attempt to get employment in any job which involves children.If you chose to fight the decision, you have to file for an Article 78 proceeding in Supreme Court.The Supreme Court of New York State is not the highest court in the state. It is a trial court, and is normally located in your county courthouse.You have four months maximum to file an appeal under New York State Civil Practice Laws and Rules. However, you should file your appeal right away for two reasons. One, in case there is a another law that limits your time to appeal to less than four months. Two, because your memory of the fair hearing is fresh. If you delay, you may forget some pertinent information.If I were appealing a hearing, I would not try to do it pro se, representing myself. In fact, I think it is advisable to have a lawyer during every step of the way when you are dealing with Child Protective Services and Family Court.
A 30-60 minute consultation with an experienced attorney will do a lot to inform you whether or not you should proceed with an Article 78 appeal. If I were looking for an attorney, I would try to find one who is familiar with Child Protective Services, fair hearings, and who has had experience filing Article 78 appeals.
On what basis, can you file an appeal? "One argument you can raise is that the agency didn't follow its own rules when it made the decision. Two of the other things the court can consider are 1) whether the decision was "arbitrary and capricious" or 2) not supported by "substantial evidence". These words have special legal meanings. "Arbitrary and capricious" means not reasonably related to the facts of the case. "Substantial evidence" is evidence that a reasonable person would accept as enough to support the agency's decision. If you lost a hearing, you probably feel that you should win on both of these issues. New York courts very often decide in favor of the agency if the agency has written down some reason for its decision, even if many people would think the decision was wrong."One way to find out if the Office of Children and Family Services followed its own procedure is to familiarize yourself with the New York State Manual for Administrative Law Judges. This is the manual that the administrative law judge should have followed at your hearing. I have previously discuss how it appears that the New York State Office of Children and Family Services contracted foster care agencies violates this manual.
Sample Letter to the State
Here is a sample letter that you must write up to the state. You must send additional information up to the state. Please do not send this letter up by itself. You will risk losing your case if you do.
Intake Stage Id:
Date of intake
New York State Office of Children and Family Services Child Abuse and Maltreatment Register
P.O. Box 4480 Albany, New York 12204-0480
To Whom it May Concern:
I am requesting that the unfounded/ indicated report(s) against me in the State Central Register be amended and legally sealed. Additionally, I request that the unfounded/indicated report(s) against me be deemed irrelevant to and not reasonably related to employment, adoption or the provision of foster care.
Further, pursuant to Section 422(7) of the Social Services Law, I am requesting a copy of all records associated with my case.
Date of Birth
Copyright Â© 2010 Foster Parent Advocacy Foundation Inc. All rights reserved.
Learn How to Survive as a Foster Parent
Make sure you know and understand your entire agencyâs licensing rules and regulations. Never bend the rules or slack off on them. Read your foster parent manual. Maintain clear communication with your childâs treatment team. Ask for help when behaviors arise that you donât know how to handle.
If you have concerns that your childâs needs are not being met contact the caseworker then supervisor and then director if no one helps you. Maintain a cordial and professional working relationship with all professionals. Extend that to include the childâs birth parents. Call your advocate for help when you need support.
1-Before you accept any new foster child placement into your home, get as much information as possible about the child.
2-Decide if the child being offered for placements is within your capabilities to parent. Can you help this child with his needs?
3-From the first day of placement until the day the foster child leaves your home. Keep your own case records. Use a composition notebook. Use a separate book for each child.
4-Write down anything out of the ordinary that happens. If your child falls down and skins his knee write it down or take a picture. How did this occur? What did you do about it/ how did the child react. Always contact caseworker and write down date and time that you called?
5-Develop family rules and post them for all family members to see.
6-If your child tells a lie write it down, leave out your feelings about it and include only the facts and circumstances. Write down how you handled the situation.
7-If you donât write things down they become lost or distorted.
8-Learn about the children; previous behavior including lying, destructiveness, combativeness, ability to get along with others, eating patterns. Sleeping patterns, social skills, school performance, and other behaviors within the first 30 days of placement you should receive this information from the agency.
9-Ask if the child was ever a victim of sexual abuse. If the child was a victim there is a greater chance that he/she will victimize someone else.
10- Find out if the child had previous foster care or relative placements. If so why did the placements fail? Ask to speak to the former foster parent on what went wrong.
11-Has the child ever made false allegations against anyone? How was it investigated and resolved.
12-Has the child been sexually active or promiscuous? You need to have a plan not to leave the child alone with a member of opposite sex.
13-Inquire about the childâs biological family. What will be the degree of difficulty working with them? Does the child have visits with them? If so are they supervised? By whom? Has the birth family made allegations in the past?
14-What medication is the child on? For what reason. What are the side effects? Get the complete medical history.
15-Will the child be in special education classes? Will riding the school bus be a problem? Has the child had suspensions from school in the past?
16-Does the child have a history of abusing animals?
17-Write down how your child behaves both before and after the parental home visits. Include comments that seem out of the ordinary made by the child and biological parents.
18-Document the time the child left your home and the time the child returned.
19-Keep track of absences from school, contacts with school personnel, school performance and behaviors. Include reason for absences and other contacts.
20-Document all contacts that you made with your case workers and counselors or professionals. Include the topic of the conversation and where the meeting took place time of day and suggestions made by the worker or any professionals. Write down any important information you provided to them.
21-.Write down things that trigger behavior with your foster child .Triggers are memories, sounds songs pictures or events.
22-You have the most contact with that child and knowledge about your foster child. You are with them 24 hours a day write it down and date it as soon as possible. If your agency is not helping you and you feel that you are not being supported call us.
We are hear to assist you and support you the best way we can. Most social workers and case workers donât understand the difficulty of your job as a foster parent and trials unless they walked in your shoes.
They will never understand how difficult your job is! Here at Foster Parent Advocacy Foundation Inc we understand and we are here to support you. Become a member today. Call us today 1-646-402-6133
Do you know what your agency role is?
No one ever told you what the âRole of your Foster Care Agencyâ is, their obligation to you as a Foster Parent, we thought you might be interested in exploring this subject.
Most of the time as a foster parent everyone is always talking to you about what your role is, but what about the Agency where you placed your license issued by your state?
âThe first thing we need to understand that agencies are different, just as states are different and lay out their own set of rules and regulations (Administrative Law) .
ââIn the case of the foster care agencies, these are called âAdministrativeâ rules and regulations; in state they are called State Statutes. So in pulling off just one of the states randomly lets see what those obligations are;
âThe agency shall:
(a) Provide the foster parent with accurate information about the foster child, including the reason the foster child is in foster care, within three business days after placement;
â(b) Provide the foster parent with medical records, including immunization records, for the foster child, within three (3) business days of placement;
â(c) Help the foster parent to understand her or his rights and responsibilities;
â(d) Include the foster parent in the development of any service agreements for each foster child in her or his care;
â(e) Inform the foster parent of the foster childâs permanency plan, keep the foster parent updated as to the progress of the achievement of that plan, and allow the foster parent to provide input into the plan;
â(f) Explain payment criteria, including foster care board and care payments, clothing allowance,and any supplemental expenditures made to meet the foster childâs needs;
â(g) Evaluate the foster parentâs ability to provide for the needs of the household on a case by case basis. If a foster parent has a financial problem, the agency may assist the foster parent in accessing assistance through community resources;
â(h) Provide appropriate supportive services, when available, that will enable the foster parent to meet the unique needs of the foster child and deal effectively with problems inherent in the foster childâs adjustment to care;
"How Important is Documentation?
Documentation is imperative to your survival as a Foster Parent, it is your only line of defense. âIt is unfortunate that your Foster Parent trainings do not cover the vital subjects that we are exploring here on. They are in the most part defeating the purpose of the trainings. You see, if they would provide their foster parents an education, containing truth about the allegations that is heading their way, from which the only defense is documentation, it would give foster parents the opportunity to prepare for their case
Instead, foster parents find themselves stress out and confused with no where to turn. Wondering why someone was not honest with them. While their lives are in turmoil due to an allegation then it is too late to instruct you in ââdocumentation.
ââWhen they live through the traumatic experience an allegation they no longer wish to continue as foster parents. Can you blame you? âPartial solution to the problem, a new approach, be truthful with you, warn you about allegations and teach you to document properly.
Remember what the rules of instruction are. What, why and how. So let us cover exactly what documentation is; Websterâs dictionary defines this word as; The paper that furnishes information, proof, or support of something else. This is what we are doing when we document. We are establishing a method of proving/documenting any events/incidents that take place in or outside of our homes. Documentation is a record another word commonly is journaling.
âI think the why in this subject is obvious; we are trying to save ourselves from the humiliation and unnecessary financial/emotional ruin from an impending allegation. Documentation is our only defense.
ââYou must change your way of thinking. Instead of thinking, you could have an allegation filed, change this thinking to âyou will have an allegationâ filed on me or someone in my family. âHomework; write this out and place it in a prominent place so youâll see it. EVERYDAY
âIt is not a matter of if, it is a matter of whenâ.
âKNOW YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
ââ Until you face âfalse allegationâ charges, it is a little known fact that FOSTER PARENTS HAVE NO RIGHTS. You must fight for your rights every step of the way. The Bill of Rights, which is part of the United States Constitution, is the lawâ¦But when faced with false allegations by CPS foster parents are coerced and bullied into believing they have NO RIGHTS. You must âfightâ to preserve your rights every step of the way. It is unfortunate that we, as foster parents, have allowed ourselves to get into this position. We often do NOT know exactly what our rights are. Through our own ignorance, we have allowed the state courts and the âsystemâ to strip us of those rights. In ignorance, we never raised a voice in our own defenseâ¦We never protested the steps taken to deny us the rights guaranteed by our Constitution. You might wonder âhowâ this could happen. Well, it happened one small step at a timeâ¦day after day, year after yearâ¦until the system is as it is today. CPS has whittled away at our Constitution and Rights piece by piece and changed it to âfitâ their agenda and in doing this they have constructed a âreigning set of lawsâ that will devastate anyone who dares to question their validity. To challenge CPS is to challenge âGODââ¦and anyone who dares to take this path is in for the fight of his/her life. We must take a stand and reverse this trend.
ââWE MUST DEMAND OUR RIGHTS! We must challenge the laws of the stateâ¦of the court and its rulingsâ¦of the county and its policiesâ¦that have been made âlocal law.â It is evident that the system is âbrokenâ and it âno longer works.â It is âour responsibilityâ to change this broken system and fix it. We CAN challenge and we CAN change it IF we are persistent in following the American dreams and ideals that we grew up believing. We can no longer rely on anyone else to protect our rights. We must become informed and do it ourselves. LEARN THE CONSTITUTION and keep a list of the rights that were violated in your case. Later on, you might be able to use these violations and information for a civil suit, IF you decide to pursue that road. CPS will tell you that you cannot sue themâ¦That they are immune from prosecution. Donât believe them. Laws are changing and these unethical, corrupt people are coming under close scrutiny.
ââ ââCONTACT YOUR COUNTY GRAND JURY
Many Grand Jury investigations of Child Protective Services are being done. The investigations are confidential and CPS or the public may not even be aware that they are being investigated. It is important to notify the county Grand Jury if CPS is violating your rights or NOT following their own regulations. It might be that the Grand Jury needs to acquire a certain number of complaints before they can act and your letter just could be the one that will make the difference. By contacting the Grand Jury you will be helping yourself as well as those past and future.
â âââââââââ Join the Foster Parent Action Committee
ââFoster Parent Action Committee is comprised of the most important aspect of being a foster parent. Action Committee is put together by current and former foster parents who care about other foster parents and their children in foster care. The reason for Action Committee is to bring Constitutional, fair and lawful practices into use for foster parents accused of abusing their foster children.
1. Help other foster parents who are not aware of the Dangerous Truth
â2. Foster Parents need to know why other foster parents want to help them, so their lives and their childrenâs lives are not ruined.
â3. Foster Parents need to know why there is a movement, nationwide, consisting of 200,000 foster parents
â4. Foster Parents need to understand why foster parents are leaving and/or have already left foster care
â5. Foster Care is necessary for the well-being of children. Foster parent need to fight for there rights and equality.
ââFoster Parent Advocacy Foundation Inc may prevent a foster parent from being put into jail or the Stateâs Central Registry from false (untrue) allegations. Foster Parent Advocacy Foundation Inc addresses the lack of basic civil rights of the foster parents in many areas.
âââ1. Are you in the process of being accused and need help?
2.â There is help and support available. You are not the only one.
How To Fight CPS & your agency"
â Step by Step Condensed
â#1 No matter what stage your "case" is in, the Number One (#1) thing YOU MUST DO-
âDocument, Document, Document
ââThis costs nothing and is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do in your defense.
CPS agents "make mistakes", LIE, and TWIST your words. Don't let them get away with it- DOCUMENT IT.
Keep detailed records of who said what, when. Keep copies of EVERYTHING you send to them or receive from them.
ESPECIALLY document face-to-face and conversations on the phone. Record or video tape if you have it. âThis is a war fought with PAPER, paper FILED ON THE RECORD in court.
Insist on LETTERS to and from the agencies.
âThey can't alter their words printed on paper that have been mailed to you. Nor can they alter your words either.
KEEP COPIES of your letters to them.
#2 SIGN NOTHING, AGREE TO NOTHING
If you are innocent or falsely accused, Do NOT agree to anything a CPS agent says. ABSOLUTELY do NOT sign anything a CPS agent shoves under your nose until you talk it over with your LAWYER or a trusted friend who has some legal savvy.
Anything they FORCE you to sign, you can add "Under Duress" before your signature if you don't agree with it.
If you already have agreed or signed something that you felt coercion to do, upon advice from your lawyer or knowledgeable friend, you can RESCIND your previous agreement or signature.
ââBe forewarned- this will really, REALLY piss off the CPS worker and they WILL undertake to punish you every way possible. But she probably planned on "doing their worst", hurting you every way possible, eventually.
ââ âAbout the "Service" or "Safety Plan"
ââ#3 SHUT UP--- SHUT UP--- SHUT UP!
Quit talking with the CPS. You are waiving your FIFTH AMENDMENT CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT and Miranda Rights every time you answer a question.
"The claim and exercise of a Constitutional right cannot be converted into a crime." --
ââMiller v. U.S. Source: 230 F 2d 486, 489
Personal and phone conversations are where "mistakes" (inventions and fabrications) happen when THEY write their report about the conversations.
ââWords you say float up into the rafters and come back twisted against you. If you feel you have to talk with them, record it or videotape it. You can then transcribe it into your DOCUMENT.
âA Practical Guide to Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversations in the 50 States and D.C.
âCPS is NOT your friend!
âDO NOT pour your heart out to a CPS worker or case worker with your agency.
Penalties for Failure to Report and False Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect
âFailure to Report
Soc. Serv. Law Â§ 420 -âAny mandatory reporter who willfully fails to report as required shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
Any mandatory reporter who knowingly and willfully fails to report as required shall be civilly liable for the damages proximately caused by such failure.
Penal Law Â§ 240.50(4)
ââA person is guilty of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree when, knowing the information reported, conveyed, or circulated to be false or baseless, he or she reports, by word or action, an alleged occurrence or condition of child abuse or maltreatment that did not in fact occur or exist to: âThe statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment
Any person required to report cases of suspected child abuse or maltreatment, knowing that the person is required to report such cases, and with the intent that such an alleged occurrence be reported to the statewide central register . âFalsely reporting an incident in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor.
Procedures Foster Parents Need To Know
ââWritten by-â Maxine Ketcher, J.D., senior staff attorney at LSNY-Bronx, &
Barbara Winter, MSW, of Lansner & Kubitschek
âFoster parents should get an advance, written, "ten (10) day notice" that their foster children will be removed, unless there is "imminent risk" (immediate, serious danger to the children's physical or emotional well-being). The notice should say why the children are being removed and how the foster parent can stop it (usually foster parents can't go to Court to stop the removal or obtain return of the children). Foster Parent should never sign the removal because you are waiving your rights.
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE TO STOP A REMOVAL?
1. Administrative (or Agency) Conference. Within 10 days of receiving the notice, the foster parent must call or write the foster care agency (or the Administration for Children's Services [ACS] in New York City, if no other foster care agency is involved) to ask the agency to reconsider. DO
ââTHIS BEFORE THE CHILDREN ARE REMOVED. At the same time also contact ACS's Office of Advocacy at (212) 676-9241; 150 William Street, New York, New York 10038, to ask that the children not be removed until after both the "Administrative Conference" AND "Independent Review" determinations have been made.
â2. The Administrative Conference is usually held at the foster care agency a few days after the request. The caseworker and supervisor attend, other agency and ACS workers may be there too. It is usually very informal; the agency explains its concerns to the foster parent, then determines if the foster children should stay in that home. If there is no agreement:
â3. Independent Review. This is an informal hearing, held at ACS's Office of Advocacy. An ACS worker, other than the regular ACS case manager (and, if involved, ACS's Office of Confidential Investigation's, [OCI], worker) listens to both sides of the story, then determines if it is in the best interests of the children to remain with (or return to) that foster parent or move to another foster home.
â4. The Independent Review must be set up within 10 days of the request; written notice must be sent at least 5 days in advance. A written decision must be sent within 5 days after the Review ends.
â5. IF A FOSTER PARENT LOSES AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW, and the children are not already removed, they cannot be removed until 3 days after the decision is sent, or the day the removal was originally scheduled, whichever is later. The foster parent should immediately ask the NYS Office of Children and Families Services (OCFS) for a Fair Hearing and a "stay" of the children's removal. Without OCFS's "stay", the children can be removed before the Fair Hearing occurs.
â6. From this point on, anytime a foster parent has to appeal, s/he must ask for a "stay" to prevent the children's removal during the appeals. The stay can be given by the Judge whose determination is being appealed or by the court to which one is appealing.
â7. Fair Hearing. This is a State review of the decision from the Independent Review. You have only 60 days after an unfavorable Independent Review decision is mailed to ask for a Fair Hearing. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will decide whether the foster care agency and ACS abused their "discretion" by removing your foster children ("agency discretion" means the agency can move a child if it believes that is in the child's best interests). If the ALJ decides the agencies made a reasonable decision, the Fair Hearing will confirm the agencies' decision. There are instructions for requesting a Fair Hearing at the end of this brochure. If you lose the Fair Hearing, you can go to:
â8. "Article 78." This is the name for an appeal in NYS Supreme Court from a Fair Hearing decision. It can be filed in any borough where the agencies have offices, or where you live, or in one of the "Appellate Divisions" of Supreme Court. Where you file depends on what legal claims you can make and several other issues. For these reasons, it is very helpful to have a lawyer, or get advice from one, if you need to do an Article 78 of this type. You can call Legal Services of New York City (212-431-7200) to get the number of your local Legal Services office or call the local Bar Association's Referral Service. (Check your phone directory or call Information.) No matter where you file your Article 78 you have only four (4) months from the date the Fair Hearing determination was mailed to you to file your Article 78.
â9. Appeal. If you lose your Article 78, you can appeal further. You must file within 30 days of receiving notice that an order was made against you.
All foster parents must follow these steps unless a judge makes an order saying something else. There are no exceptions, or special rules, for foster parents who are related to the children (kinship foster care) or who were planning to adopt their foster children.
âIF YOU HAVE A COURT ORDER SPECIFICALLY SAYING THE CHILDREN SHOULD STAY WITH YOU WHILE IN FOSTER CARE
If you have a court order saying the children are "placed with ACS" or "placed with the Commissioner of Social Services" [of the City of New York] "to reside with" you, ACS and/or the foster care agency must ask a judge to change that order before the children can be removed (unless they were removed due to an emergency). If the children have already been removed, you can go to court and file a "petition to enforce" the judge's order and ask for the children to be returned, unless the judge was already asked to change his/her order. The judge will also decide whether you have to follow the usual steps we've described, or whether s/he will review the matter in court.
âIF THE FAMILY COURT JUDGE ORDERS THE REMOVAL OF YOUR FOSTER CHILDREN
If you were in court when the judge made the order to remove the children, you can appeal to an Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court (see above) and/or ask the judge to reconsider his/her decision. You have only 30 days to do either of these things.
If you were not in court when the judge made the order, you may still be able to ask the judge to review his/her decision, and consider the legal arguments you would have made if you had been there (called "modifying" or "vacating" an order, depending upon whether or not you had notice of the case).
âEMERGENCY REMOVALS OF FOSTER CHILDREN
If the agency believes the children are at imminent risk, they may legally remove them from their foster homes without written notice being given to their foster parents. Foster parents still have the right to follow the steps described above to try to get their foster children returned.
There are four other common times when foster parents will not receive a ten day notice of removal: (1) a judge orders the removal; (2) the foster parent asks for the removal; (3) the children are being returned to their parents or (4) the law requires that a foster parent be "de-certified" (no longer qualifies as a foster parent).
âREMOVALS EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO NEGLECT OR ABUSE
The agency decides what is in the child's best interests. Some common reasons for placing a child in another foster home are: (a) the child needs a more structured setting or more supervision than s/he currently has; (b) the child is being (re)united with relatives; (c) another home will better meet his/her permanency goal. Only if the foster care agency "abuses its discretion" might the agency's actions be overturned after a "Review" or "Hearing".
âIF A FOSTER PARENT IS ACCUSED OF NEGLECT OR ABUSE OF FOSTER CHILDREN
ACS' Office of Confidential Investigations (OCI) will investigate the accusations, and may also report them to the State Central Registry (SCR). OCI has up to 60 days to finish its investigation. You should receive a notice from the NYS Office of Children and Families Services (OCFS) that the report was made against you. If OCI and OFCS believe you have neglected and/or abused a child, you should receive a State notice that the report is "indicated" or "founded."
âOCI then decides if your foster children should be taken out of your home. If OCI decides they should, you have the right to follow the procedure discussed above to prevent the removal or to try to get them back.
âYou have the right to ask for a separate Fair Hearing to "clear your name" so the State does not use the record against you. You must ask for this Fair Hearing within 60 days of getting the Notice of an Indicated Report. Officially this is called a hearing to "seal"(only ACS, law enforcement, or certain courts can know the report exists), "expunge" (physically destroy) or amend the report.
âAsking for this Hearing does not stop ACS or the agency from removing the child. To prevent the removal, you have to follow the steps outlined above; it may involve another, separate "removal" Fair Hearing. Understand that these two Fair Hearings are always separate, even though they involve the same events.
âPLACEMENT OF OTHER FOSTER CHILDREN WITH YOU
The removal of a foster child, even against your wishes, is not necessarily a reason not to place other foster children with you. Placement of other children in your home depends upon the reason your foster child was removed. For example, if a child was removed because of the need for a more structured setting, the agency may be willing to put less demanding children in your home. If you were found neglectful, however, you are less likely to get other children.
If the agency and/or ACS decides no more foster children should be put in your home, you should receive another, separate, written notice that your (foster) "home" is being closed." Again, you can ask for a separate Fair Hearing on this issue. See information at the end of this website.
âSometimes the agency and/or ACS simply do not re-new a foster parent's license, certification, or approval letter. Before your license, certificate, or approval letter expires, ask the agency or ACS if they will renew. If they say no, or don't answer in 30 days, you can ask for a Fair Hearing on this issue. Call or write the same place you would for a Fair Hearing about your home being closed.
These Fair Hearings are different and usually separate from a Removal or "Name Clearing" Fair Hearing. Sometimes three Fair Hearings are needed in order for a foster parent to continue caring for certain child(ren).
âTo ask for a Fair Hearing you can go in person, or call, or write. The best way is to go in person to:
âNew York State Department of Family Assistance
14 Boerum Place
Brooklyn, New York âor you can call
518 or 474-8781 (long distance)
or you can write to:
âNew York State Department of Family Assistance
40 N. Pearl Street
Albany, NY 12243
âAttn.: Fair Hearing Request Unit
Regarding removals: Attn. Special Hearings - Fair Hearing Request Unit, (express mail, if possible)
âRegarding an SCR report: Attn: Post-Intake Unit
âOn closing your home: Attn: Special Fair Hearings Request Unit .
Knowledge is Power Educate yourself Foster parents.
ââPlease review this site for State Policy's
âKey Issues - State Summaries
If you are are a foster parent on the registry give us a call 1-646-402-6133
â New York state central register on child abuse and neglect seriously flawed
By Daniel Weaverâ
Almost everyone knows that New York State maintains a sex offender registry, but few people know that New York State, in deed all states, also maintains a child abuse and maltreatment registry, known as the State Central Register. While the sex offender registry serves a useful purpose in that it makes the public aware of convicted sex offenders, the nature of their crimes, and where they are currently living; the child abuse and maltreatment registry is seriously flawed and is injurious to thousands of people who have never been convicted of a crime. Thatâs because you do not have to be convicted of a crime to have your name placed on the child abuse and maltreatment registry.
âJust how does your name get on the registry? After a phone call is made to the child abuse hotline, a report of the call is made to Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS launches an investigation that can take up to sixty days to complete. When the investigator completes her investigation, she either indicates the report or declares that it is unfounded. An unfounded report means that the investigator found no evidence of neglect or abuse. An indicated report means that the investigator found some evidence of neglect or abuse. Once a report is indicated, the person who allegedly abused or neglected a child is immediately placed on the child abuse registry.
All it takes then to be placed on the registry is one personâs investigation, resulting in her belief that there is some evidence that abuse or neglect took place. The investigator is not required to find that there is a preponderance of evidence pointing to guilt, but only some evidence.
Itâs true that some of these cases end up in court and the person named in the report is found guilty of neglect or abuse, but there are also many cases where the person is found innocent. If a person is found innocent, his or her name is not automatically removed from the registry. A separate hearing has to be held to do that and the alleged perpetrator has to formally request that hearing within a certain time frame.
Many times a report is indicated, particularly in neglect cases, and no criminal charges are lodged. I know of cases where a CPS investigator indicated a report of neglect, but no charges or petitions were filed in either family or criminal court. My guess is that the investigator did not really believe there was any neglect, but wanted to protect herself in case more evidence surfaced in the future.
What is disturbing about the child abuse and maltreatment registry is that, regardless of whether or not a person is guilty, he or she is placed on the registry before having a chance to defend his or her innocence. And he or she is placed on that registry based on the investigation of one person. This is akin to a person being placed on the sex offender registry before going to trial, based on one detectiveâs investigation.
This becomes even more troubling when one realizes that the registry is not just a list of people who have been accused of child abuse and neglect and investigated by one person who believes there is some evidence of neglect, but it is also a form of punishment. While the child abuse registry is not available to the general public, it is available to employers who employ people in jobs--such as daycare, teaching or pediatric nursing--where they have contact with children.
When you apply for a job working with children, your prospective employer will most likely send an inquiry to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to see if your name is on the register. If your name is on it, the employer is not likely to care whether or not you are innocent or whether or not you got your day in court. Heâs not likely to hire you, and with law suits and liability insurance being what they are, you can hardly blame him.
The real culprits here are not employers who use the list, CPS investigators who put people on the list, or the New York State Office of Children and Family Services which maintains the list. The real culprits are the New York State Assembly and Senate which passed the laws setting up the registry and the rules for getting placed on the list.
These laws are unfair and most likely unconstitutional, but no one has challenged them. Most of the people on the list, whether guilty or innocent, are the kind that canât afford an attorney to represent them at a âfair hearingâ to get their name taken off the list, much less afford to challenge the laws that put them on the list in the first place.
Civil liberties groups have challenged sex offender laws, laws that often affect convicted criminals, because of their unfairness. The same attention needs to be paid to parents, foster parents, grandparents and others who have been placed on the child abuse and maltreatment registry before having their day in court and in some cases without ever having their day in court.