National Reunification Day 2014

National Reunification Day 2014

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

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Parent Advocacy Network

suzanneHelping parents to utilize their stories and experiences in the child welfare system to affect change, the Parent Advocacy Network, led by Suzanne Sellers (pictured), was convened in the summer of 2014 with three workshops on writing, telling, and sharing their stories.

Meeting 1: June 17, 2014 from 6 to 7 p.m. – Parents were oriented through the process of writing their stories and how that process helps build strength for advocacy

Meeting 2: July 15, 2014 from 6 to 7 p.m. – Parents reconvened to share their story drafts and discuss revisions

Meeting 3: July 22, 2014 from 6 to 7 p.m. – Parents submitted their final drafts and discuss ways to use these written and spoken stories to effect change through publication, public speaking, meeting with legislators, and more.

Family Defender Issue 15: Summer 2013

Click here to read issue #15 in PDF (Summer 2013)

Special Double Issue: Medically-Complex Cases in the Child Welfare System


In re Yohan K.: Parents of Infant with Rare Medical Conditions Known to Mimic Signs of Abuse Exonerated by the Appellate Court of Illinois after Two-Year-Long Battle, page 1

Family Defense Briefs, page 2

National Reunification Day Gives Families A Chance to Tell Stories, Plant Seeds for Change, page 3

Julie Q. Scores Huge Win for Illinois Families, page 4

Family Defense Center Paper to Address Medical Ethical Issues in Child Abuse Pediatrics, page 6

Release of Information: Consent or Coercion?, page 9

The Family Defense Center and the Innocence Movement: A Natural Collaboration, page 10

Hon. Nancy C. Dreher Fund Supports Medically-Complex Case Advocacy and Research, page 11

Illinois Higher Courts Disallow Medical Opinion Hearsay and Prior Notes of Persons Not Testifying, page 16

My Son Needed Treatment and I Needed Answers, But Instead We Got Accusations and Threats from the Doctors and Hospital I Had Trusted, page 17

Our Lives and Our Beliefs In The Justice System–And in the Medical Care System–Were Shattered by a False Allegation By a Child Abuse Pediatrician, Page 19

Prima Facie Case of “Failure to Thrive” Ends in Exoneration for Mother, page 21

Can You Believe This?, page 21

Message from the Executive Director, page 24

National Reunification Day 2013

National Reunification Day 2013

National Reunification Day celebration was held on June 15, 2013, at Holy Trinity High School in Chicago. The National Reunification Day program combines celebration with  education and advocacy. Through this event, we hope to empower and inspire other parents, showing them that it is possible to confront and resolve the issues that led to their separation and to reunify with their children. In keeping with this goal, we hosted a panel of parents who shared their stories of separation and reunification. We also honored the many professionals who support families in their quest to reunite. The program featured former Juvenile Court Judge Joan Marie Kubalanza as the keynote speaker, a workshop led by clinical psychologist Phyllis Rubin of Theraplay, a panel of parents who shared their personal stories of separation and reunification, and a Parent Café led by Be Strong Families.  There were many activities for children too, including storytelling and Peruvian dancing.

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National Reunification Day 2011

National Reunification Day 2011

The Family Defense Center hosted a National Reunification Day celebration in Chicago on May 21st, 2011.  Diane Redleaf, the executive director of the Family Defense Center, spoke regarding the importance of Camreta v. Greene, the first child welfare case to be heard by the United States Supreme Court in 21 years.  Licensed Clinical Social Worker Nikki Lively presented on the effects of separation from siblings and family on children.  Attendees also heard the personal story of a former Family Defense Center client whose family was recently reunified.

Endorsed by the American Bar Association’s Children and the Law Center, National Reunification Day started in Iowa as a way to recognize the importance of family reunification after families are separated by child protection authorities. For many families, the achievement of reunification requires overcoming many personal as well as bureaucratic obstacles.  Families need to celebrate their own achievements as well has focus on helping others to heal. Click to view photos from the event.

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