Our clients who have children express
the desire to be good mothers. Some will
decide to fight for custody and others
will decide that the best choice is to
surrender custody so another family can
offer better opportunities for their
children. Drug use, coupled with their
own childhood experiences of violence,
inconsistent role models and parenting
styles, can interfere with a woman’s
goals of keeping or regaining custody
of her children. WPA staff can help a
woman give voice to her goals, inventory
her options, and develop concrete steps
toward realizing her familial objectives.
Intensive case management, individual
and family counseling, and legal consultation
on child custody issues can help a woman
cope with these critical matters.
WPA Law Project
The WPA Law Project , formerly known as the Incarcerated Mothers Law Project or “IMLP”, has been a project of WPA for nearly 15 years, with a focus on helping criminal justice-involved mothers preserve family relationships; make and implement informed decisions about the care and custody of their children; and navigate the complicated court and child welfare systems that impact their families. The Law Project works collaboratively with staff, attorneys assigned by the Court, and outside social services agencies to promote our clients’ understanding of Family Court proceedings related to the care and well-being of their children – and to help them find their voice and use it effectively.
The Law Project also addresses a myriad of other civil legal issues which may hinder or prevent criminal-justice involved women from achieving stability, strength and safety. The Law Project provides consultations, advocacy and facilitated referrals to, for example, help women escape domestic violence, obtain or maintain housing, access public benefits, and gain or maintain employment.
By providing ongoing support and accurate information, the Law Project can assuage a women’s fears of the legal system, reassure her of her rights and options, and empower her to make pro-active decisions. Through its knowledge of and linkages with other legal services programs, the Law Project often is able to help the client secure direct representation for matters in court.
The Law Project staff also offers educational sessions in-house, in the community and at Rikers Island, on issues related to the criminal justice, foster care, and family court systems.
Family Preservation Program
Family Preservation Program provides
intensive case management and assistance
to families at risk for removal of children
to foster care because of a mother’s
drug use. This program, located at our
accepts families referred by the Administration
for Children’s Services (ACS),
other agencies, and through self-referral.
The program’s goal is to improve
a family’s chances for staying
together by helping women identify and
address their addictions and other challenges
to maintaining a healthy home and family.
Clients can take advantage of on-site
substance abuse treatment services offered
by the Realization Center, an addiction treatment program.
WPA staff work closely with ACS and
other agencies to promote client success.
WPA uses an intensive case management
model to help families deal with substance
abuse and mental illness, and to obtain
housing, education, and employment. Program
staff help families reduce and eliminate
the impact of substance abuse by providing
new alternatives and support. Each family
enrolled in the program works with a
team of two staff members who meet regularly
with family members in their homes, at
other community sites, and at WPA’s
BCO. Staff make frequent visits to the
families’ home and schools and
provide support to parents during medical,
housing, public assistance, parole, probation,
and other appointments. In addition,
case managers help families develop competence
at everyday activities such as shopping,
cooking, and laundry.
The Family Preservation Program is
the first WPA program that provides direct
assistance to individuals and families
who may not have criminal justice histories.
The program attempts to divert women
from arrest by helping them abstain from
drug use and maintain their families’ unity.
Vera Institute of Justice study
reveals that mothers are often arrested soon after the removal of children
to foster care.)