Imagine being in the comfort of your home with your two small children when Child Protective Services (CPS) suddenly arrives and removes them from your custody. They arrive without serving you with papers or explaining what gives them the power to remove your children and English is not your first language. The children are then placed in foster care with strangers and are without their mother for the first time in their lives. This is the experience Isabelle* endured just before turning to Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV) for help.
Fortunately, our Family Defense Unit (FDU) immediately conducted an intake with our multidisciplinary team consisting of a lawyer, supervisor, social worker, advocate and translator. While working collaboratively with the client's service providers and the Department of Social Services (DSS) to gather information on Isabelle's history and care of her children, the FDU team quickly created a strategy to defend against the removal and reunite the family.
Despite a Judge's initial decision to uphold the CPS removal, our appellate attorney worked on crafting a solid appeal of the decision. Our social worker worked alongside the attorney during court appearances to ensure that Isabelle received the additional services needed and provided emotional support, guidance and coaching to her.
Shortly after, DSS offered to return the children to Isabelle immediately, and their 32-day separation finally ended. Isabelle's family was reunited and will enjoy the holiday season much like the rest of us, TOGETHER.