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.
Families Organizing for Child Welfare Justice and the Family Defense Center celebrated our 7th Annual National Reunification Day on June 11, 2016. National Reunification Day honors the reunification of families who have been separated by the child welfare system. The celebration shared stories from families impacted by the child welfare system and encouraged affected individuals to become advocates for change.
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.
For the past 11 years, the Family Defense Center has enjoyed significant support from friends in Minnesota. Starting in 2007, the Center has held annual events in the Twin Cities, with recent events featuring family defense and innocence work done at the William Mitchell Law School Clinic (2014) and by the Wisconsin Innocence Project (2015). Thanks to our Champion Board Member Elizabeth Larsen, these events have been held for the past three years at the lovely Minikahda Club. This year, on April 27, the Center is continuing that tradition and expanding its event to include a joint program with the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota. Read more
Thank you to our supporters for being a part of the next decade of justice for families! With your help, we had our best year yet at our annual benefit. We are excited to continue our work into the next decade.
Our successes over the last 10 years would not have been possible without our 10th Anniversary Honorees and our 2015 Family Defender. Here is the video that debuted at our celebration:
National Reunification Day, held on June 6, 2015, celebrated the reunification of families impacted by child welfare intervention, and encouraged parents and advocates to turn their stories into solutions. Family Defense Center parent advocate Suzanne Sellers and Legal Assistance Foundation board member Kevin Brown led a discussion about how they have used their own personal stories to advocate for systemic change and help others. Then, participants practiced telling their stories to each other, and parents who were personally affected by child welfare intervention were recognized.
Our 2015 breakfast event was held at Baker & McKenzie on May 7, 2015. The program included a panel of mothers who were victims of domestic violence and child welfare intervention, and it was moderated by award-winning Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell. After the event, Ms. Mitchell wrote this piece about the event and our mothers’ defense work.
On Sunday, September 21, 2014, at the MidAmerica Club in Chicago, the Family Defense Center honored Ellen Domph for her exemplary work as lead trial counsel in the celebrated In re: Yohan K. case which led to a landmark appellate victory as well as the research and advocacy of Professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, whose focus on the widespread injustice and error in so many “Shaken Baby Syndrome” prosecutions has helped exonerate wrongly accused families and shaped public discourse. A Community and Professional Service Award was given to FDC Board Member and pro bono attorney Louis Fogel of Jenner and Block. We also recognized the Goodman Theatre with a Community Awareness Award for promoting awareness of the child welfare system through the production of the play Luna Gale. Click to view pictures from the event as well as the event program booklet.
In the past, National Reunification Day hosted by the Family Defense Center has served to celebrate family reunification and preservation in the face of adversity, especially from the child welfare system. We want to celebrate reunification and promote parents, family members, and those negatively affected by the system to become advocates for change. In keeping with this goal, we held a National Reunification Day program on June 7, 2014, at the Logan Square Library in Chicago. The program was as follows:
Welcome by Diane Redleaf, FDC Executive Director, Nationally Recognized Child and Family Advocate
MONOLOGUE PERFORMANCE: “My Life” by Suzanne Sellers
PARENT PANEL: The Journey to Becoming an Advocate
Michelle Weidner, Advocate on Medical Accountability
Suzanne Sellers, Advocate for Parental Rights
Kim Tice, Advocate for Incarcerated Mothers
BREAKOUT DISCUSSION GROUP: The Tools You Need for your Advocacy Journey
Closing Remarks by Angela Inzano, Staff Attorney/Policy Coordinator
The third annual Mothers’ Defense Breakfast featuring stories of mothers who have fought to preserve their families in the face of termination of parental rights was held on May 9, 2014, at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun-Times moderated the panel of mothers who have fought to preserve their families.