Legal Aid Committee Selected Highlights 2016

The Family Defense Center is proud to be featured in The Chicago Bar Association Legal Aid Committee Selected Highlights 2016 alongside the excellent work of our fellow legal aid organizations. Read about our 2016 successes: our collaborative work for domestic violence survivors (page 5); our fight for justice for parents and caregivers unlawfully charged with “inadequate supervision” (page 9); and our policy victories regarding so-called “safety plans” (page 18).


Let Kids Play Celebration


Thank you to our supporters for making our Let Kids Play Celebration a success! This year’s theme, “Let Kids Play,” was a celebration of the Center’s important work defending families against unfair charges of child neglect, such as a rule that is used to punish parents for making decisions like letting their children play at the park. These vague charges of neglect especially hurt poor families who are trying to provide a good life for their children.

If you couldn’t make it, you can still be a part of the celebration by donating now!

We look forward to another year of fighting for a fairer child welfare system. Read more

Mothers’ Defense Tea 2016

Mothers’ Defense Tea 2016

The Mothers’ Defense Tea was held on May 5, 2016, at Jenner & Block LLP in Chicago. Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times award-winning columnist, moderated a panel of mothers and their pro bono counsel. The program celebrate our successes in combating “gender plus” discrimination against mothers in the child welfare system.

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Legal Aid Committee Selected Highlights 2015

The Chicago Bar Association’s Legal Aid Committee compiled highlights from its members for 2015. The Family Defense Center’s work on an emergency rule class action suit and client Natasha Felix’s case are featured on page 14 of the booklet. The Center’s report on “When Can Parents Let Children Be Alone?” and the vague category of neglect called “inadequate supervision” are highlighted on page 18.


“Parent Watching From Window Cited for ‘Inadequate Supervision'”

A Chicago mother let her three kids, ages 11, 9 and 5, play in a small park next to her Ukrainian Village apartment. She watched them from the window, but a passerby, seeing no parent, called child and family services, who then cited the mother for child neglect. Specifically it’s called “inadequate supervision.” That’s what happened to Natasha Felix two years ago, and she’s still dealing with the aftermath. And it’s a story that’s become all too familiar around the country when it comes to parents giving their kids a little space and responsibility. Chicago Tribune’s Bonnie Miller Rubin wrote about Felix’s story. She joins us with more on this case and what it says about parenting in the 21st century.

Click to listen to the full segment on WBEZ’s Morning Shift

“Chicago Mother Wages 2-Year Fight Against Child Neglect Citation”

Two years ago, Natasha Felix’s three children were outside playing at a playground next to her East Ukrainian Village apartment while she was at home.

She was checking on her sons — then ages 11, 9 and 5 — by looking out the window every 10 minutes, she said. But when a passer-by saw the Felix kids, along with a 9-year-old cousin, she assumed they were unsupervised and called the state’s Department of Children and Family Services hotline.

What one mother views as a benign activity, the state’s child protective agency sees much differently.

Click to read the full story on the Chicago Tribune

“A Mom’s Neglect? Not So Fast. Back Off, DCFS” from the Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Board

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services often gets criticized for not doing enough to protect abused and neglected children. We’ve served up a fair share of the criticism over the years. But in the case of Natasha Felix, it seems the agency has been overprotective. It’s time for the agency to back off.

Click here to read the full editorial on the Chicago Tribune