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Support the RISE Act and Reintroduction of the WORK Act!

End poverty of mothers & children. Recognize caregiving work.
Sign the petition to US Congress • 50+ current endorsersPlease add your organization today! Send this letter to your mailing lists and contacts.


For the first time in decades there is a piece of legislation and one we want reintroduced in the US Congress that recognize the work of mothers.

The RISE Out of Poverty Act (Gwen Moore, D-WI) would make ending child poverty the primary goal of TANF. The Women’s Option to Raise Kids (WORK) Act which needs to be reintroduced into Congress (was introduced in the last Congress by former Congressman Pete Stark, D- CA), recognized that raising children is vital work, and would give mothers the option of raising young children fulltime at home under current welfare legislation (TANF). The two bills together are a power for mothers everywhere, whether we are low income or not. They begin to finally value and provide resources for mothers and to undermine the growing poverty of women and children.

Sign the petition to US CongressCall to ActionJoin the growing list of endorsing organizationsAbout the bills • Letter to Members of Congress, Congressional Black Caucus • Letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer • 2Pac: Dear MamaMore…

Dallas 6 – Next court date Friday, March 6

Next court date: Friday, March 6 at 10am – pack the court!

Luzerne County Courthouse, Wilkes-Barre, PA, hearing on motions to dismiss the charges. The start of the trial, should it go forward, has been scheduled for August 24, 2015.

The Dallas 6 are six African-American prisoners in solitary confinement in the SCI Dallas Pennsylvania prison who blew the whistle on and peacefully protested against abuse and violence by prison guards in 2010. They were charged with “rioting” and have been on trial ever since in “kids for cash” Luzerne County.

Derrick Stanley and Shandre Delaney debrief with supporters after the hearing
Derrick Stanley and Shandre Delaney debrief with supporters after the hearing

Feb 19th court summary.

Testimony on the motions to dismiss the charges will now be heard on Friday March 6, as the February 19 session was spent instead on negotiating a favorable plea agreement for Carrington Keys and Anthony Locke which was upended at the last minute by Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie J. Salavantis, drawing more attention to Dallas 6 claims of retaliation, personal vendetta and corruption. DA Salavantis has personal ties to SCI Dallas prison. Plea agreement for Derrick Stanley proceeds. Over 40 supporters packed the court. Continue reading

The Right to Parent, Even If You Are Poor (In These Times, July 16, 2014)

 

In These Times

WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL…

BY SARAH JAFFE

Carolyn Hill speaks at a June 15, 2012 protest at the Philadelphia Department of Human Services.

Carolyn Hill speaks at a June 15, 2012 protest at the Philadelphia Department of Human Services. (Every Mother is a Working Mother Network)

Carolyn Hill still remembers the night, two years ago, when the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) came to take her nieces away. The girls, ages 1 and 2, had been placed with her about a year earlier, after being removed from their mother’s custody due to her mental health issues. Hill thought she’d begun the process of adopting the girls: She’d taken parenting classes at the request of the agency and had begun paperwork so that she could go forward with adoption.

But on Tuesday April 3, 2012, Hill got a call from the Lutheran Children and Family Service (LCFS), a nonprofit that had taken over her case the previous fall (Philadelphia’s DHS farms out its caretaking services to a number of nonprofits). The caller said that she needed to speak with Hill that day. The social worker who had called Hill arrived at her home after 5pm and, without prior warning, took Hill’s nieces away. “She didn’t even let them finish eating—I had stopped to get them some food, but she just took them right on out,” Hill tells In These Times. (LCFS did not return a request for comment.) Continue reading

Press Release: Dec 9 Carolyn Hill adoption hearing before Superior Court of PA

WHEN: December 9, 2014 at 1pm
WHAT: Carolyn Hill adoption hearing before Superior Court of PA
WHERE:  Superior Court 530 Walnut St Philadelphia
CONTACT:  Phoebe Jones, Every Mother is a Working Mother Network 215-848-1120  (on Dec 9: 610-505-4944) philly@allwomencount.net   www.everymothernetwork.org

Press release…..Press release…..Press release….

On December 9, a high profile adoption case comes before the PA Superior Court which will decide whether “the best interest of the child” is to return two girls to their loving but low-income aunt, or uphold an Adoption Court decision placing them with more distant but better off relatives.

This is the last chance for the return to Carolyn Hill of her two nieces who were abruptly and traumatically removed from her home by the Philadelphia Department of Human Services in 2012.  Their excuses were false accusations and one truth: that she did not have a GED!  After Ms Hill’s two-year campaign for justice, the Superior Court will determine whether this family will be reunited or whether those with slender means have less right to family life than those with higher incomes.

Local and national groups have weighed in on this important test case with an Amici Curiae Brief filed in support of Ms Hill’s petition for adoption.  In addition to the Every Mother is a Working Mother Network, signers include University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Dorothy E. Roberts, the Child Welfare Organizing Project (CWOP), the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) and the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN).  Even after the Brief was filed others have asked to sign, including RISE Magazine and child welfare author and expert David Tobis.

The Brief raises critical issues at stake in the case:

  • biases of the child welfare system against low-income Black families, and those with less formal education (Black children: 13% of the Pennsylvania population yet 49% of those taken into care)
  • bogus, biased and non-independent parent capacity evaluations used in case after case to remove children
  • absence of legal help for kinship caregivers who may never be informed of their rights, making it impossible for them to defend themselves against injustices
  • devaluing one-on-one care and bonding, including with one’s extended family
  • agency and institutional abuse of power with little or no disinterested oversight
  • access to wealth and educational level as criteria for “best interest of the child,” so that those who have less of either are excluded from consideration as parents 
  • lack of court oversight and refusal to hear key witnesses.

This decision cannot be allowed to stand, not only for the sake of these two girls who lost their loving aunt, extended family, church and neighborhood communities when DHS engaged in social engineering,” says Phoebe Jones of EMWM, “but for the sake of all children who are removed from homes where poverty, not abuse or neglect, is the ‘crime’.  Philadelphia removes children at the highest rate in the country for a city of its size and 1/3 of children would be home tomorrow if decent housing was made available to their parents.

U Penn Law Professor and author of Shattered Bonds – The Color of Child Welfare Dorothy Roberts wrote: “The psych evaluation provides a surreptitious way of keeping custody of children because of poverty without saying it. …Child protective authorities could justify detaining children because of this psychological weakness instead of poverty itself.

SPAN wrote, “We are particularly interested in the outcome of this litigation as this case has national implications for families at risk of losing their children due to poverty, discrimination, and the misinterpretation and misapplication of statutes and policy.”

About the case: Carolyn Hill is an aunt and a low-income Black single mother who was caring for her nieces at the urging of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services after her sister lost parental rights.  All were doing well for a year when DHS abruptly and possibly illegally removed the children who had bonded with her and who she was in the process of adopting on grounds that, in addition to false accusations about cognitive skills and mental health issues, Ms Hill did not have a GED.  The children, now four and five, were placed with the wife of a more distant relative at the request of the family as a temporary measure so the children would not have to be fostered with strangers until Ms Hill could regain custody.  DHS supported in the adoption proceedings this ”temporary” couple,  who have a higher income but who have separated the children from their family, church and community– all of whom fully support Ms Hill in her struggle to get them back.

Twelve witnesses took time off of work and other obligations to come to court on June 11, 2014 to testify on her behalf, including her children and other family members, friends, her pastor, neighbors, and others who know Ms Hill well.  Yet the only one allowed to testify was the psychologist who conducted an independent parenting capacity evaluation.  His evaluation dismissed the findings of a bogus and biased evaluation done by a psychologist contracted with DHS which had concluded that Ms Hill was not able to care for the children.  If Ms Hill’s witnesses had been allowed to testify, false and misleading allegations against her character made in court could have been countered and the court given accurate information with which to make their decision.

Attorney Samuel Stretton, who agreed to take on Ms Hill’s case pro bono when he heard of the injustices she and the children faced, will argue in Superior Court that it is in the children’s best interest to be returned to the home of Ms Hill where they would grow up rooted in a loving and close-knit family and community sharing birthdays and holidays and special times together.

For more info about Carolyn Hill’s case, see The Right to Parent, Even if You Are Poor by Sarah Jaffe, In These Times, July 16, 2014.

Dec 9: Pack the court for Carolyn Hill!

Some of the many who came to Superior Court hearing in August, 2013.  Carolyn Hill is in blue top with grey jacket.

Some of the many who came to Superior Court hearing in August, 2013. Carolyn Hill is in blue top with grey jacket.

Last chance for Carolyn Hill to adopt her two nieces, abruptly and traumatically removed from her home by the Dept of Human Services because she is a low-income Black woman with no GED.

Gather at 12:30pm; hearing starts at 1pm  Superior Court, 530 Walnut St, Floor 17, Philadelphia, PA    Join event on Facebook

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