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BDS & OTHERS PUT FORTH NEW BILL TO PRESERVE FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS IN THE NYS SENATE & ASSEMBLY

Brooklyn Defender Services has joined with legal service providers and non-profit organizations that work with child welfare-involved children and families from across New York State to preserve family connections after the termination of parental rights. This statewide coalition is calling itself the Preserving Family Bonds Coalition.

Research shows that children benefit from strong, healthy family bonds. Under current New York law, family court judges are not allowed to protect the rights of children to contact or visit with their biological parents and siblings after parental rights have been terminated, even when the court deems it in the best interest of the children. The Preserving Family Bonds Act (S.5790 – Savino/A.8020 – Joyner) provides that, if it is truly in the best interest of the children to stay connected with their families, then judges may allow them to do so, in a manner that is safe and appropriate.

View the Coalition’s Memo in Support of S.5790/A.8020 here.

Parent contributors to Rise Magazine highlighted this critical issue in the magazine’s most recent edition:

“Across the country, roughly 50,000 children are adopted from foster care each year. They are expected to detach from their families and start over with new ones. Their mothers and fathers, stripped of parental rights, are told to let go and move on, unsure of whether they will see their children again.

Adoption can be in the best interest of many children, but experience and research show that it’s not the right option for all children. The trauma caused by separation, the tug of war between families, and the feelings of shame and isolation have lingering effects on parent and child that often go unaddressed.

In [the Spring 2017] issue of Rise, parents share stories of adoption, including adoptions where adoptive parents broke legal agreements to keep parents and children connected. A formerly incarcerated father vows to appeal his TPR and get his son back. A youth advocate reflects on her decision not to be adopted from foster care as a teen. A grandmother says adopting her grandchildren preserved their family’s bond. A biological mom explains how openness in adoption can be the best thing for everyone involved.”

Check out the complete Spring 2017 online edition of Rise Magazine here.

If you want to join the Preserving Family Bonds Coalition and learn more about how you can help advocate for this long-overdue child welfare reform, please contact BDS Policy Attorney Andrea Nieves at anieves@bds.org or 718-254-0700 ext. 387.

Preserving Family Bonds Coalition Members include:

Brooklyn Defender Services

The Bronx Defenders

Brooklyn Law School Disability & Civil Rights Clinic

Center for Family Representation

Child Welfare Organizing Project

The Children’s Law Center

Coalition for Homeless Youth

Covenant House New York

Hour Children

Lansner & Kubitschek

Lawyers for Children

The Legal Aid Society

Linda Gehron, Esq. (Onondaga County)

Monroe County Public Defenders Office

Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem

New York State Defenders Association

New York University School of Law Family Defense Clinic

The Osborne Association

St. Lawrence County Conflict Defender’s Office

Women’s Prison Association