Advocate: a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc.
Parent advocates simply put: advocate for parents. This can be done by someone with previous experience in the CPS system or someone who knows the system inside and out. Sometimes attorneys act as parent advocates. Sometimes even a CPS caseworker advocates for parents by finding community resources for parents and approving services. Therapists can advocate for more parent-child visits. Attorneys can ask for services for their parent client. Foster parents can advocate for parents by questioning accusations made against parents that don’t seem to be ringing true as in the case of Mary Callahan in Maine who wrote a book about it! Anyone who cares about parents can advocate for parents and be a parent advocate.
PARENTAL RIGHTS CONSULTING
Consultant: a person who gives professional or expert advice
Parental Rights Consultants do much more than advocate for parents at the case level. Instead, they seek to CHANGE THE SYSTEM OVERALL and make it right, fair, equal, and constitutionally just for ALL parents currently involved in the child welfare system and future parents that may become involved in the system. Although they may at times specifically take on the role of a parent advocate, a parental rights consultant analyzes CPS systemic problems, national trends in child welfare, monetary trends, such as perverse incentives towards adoption versus reunification, laws that are poorly written or being wrongly used to impair rights, current CPS policies and procedures, and other factors that are adversely affecting ALL parents in the system.
By taking case level information from parents, parental rights consultants can weave together the bigger picture of not only WHAT is happening to parents in the CPS system, but WHY it is happening and then make recommendations to change the system and make it better for everyone – parents, children, and families.
Parental rights consultants show legislators, attorneys, judges, CPS administrators, child advocates, service providers, and other major stakeholders involved in the child welfare system how to improve the system for everyone and recommend concrete strategies to accomplish the needed changes. Parental rights consultants believe that upholding the constitution, protecting rights and privacy of individuals, and adding transparency and accountability will help correct the evils of the child welfare system – a system that consistently and statistically produces bad outcomes for everyone involved.