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Family Defense Unit and Kinship Care Unit

If you are a parent with a child welfare case in Family Court, we can represent you. Our goal, in every case possible, is to prevent your child being removed from your custody and care.

Woman holding hands with young boy

Family Defense

Legal Services of the Hudson Valley is home to Westchester County’s first multidisciplinary Family Defense Unit which helps parents navigate the challenges of the Child Welfare system.  All families deserve to live together in safety regardless of circumstance.  Using a nationally recognized model that combines attorneys, social workers and parent advocates, the Family Defense Unit fights to prevent painful family separations and works to reunite parents and children who have been separated through the court process.

If you are a parent who is being investigated by CPS, has an indicated report with the State Central Register or a parent with a child welfare case in Family Court, involving Article 10 Neglect and Abuse Matters or other child welfare matter, we can represent you.  Our goal, in every case possible, is to prevent your child being removed from your custody and care.

Additionally, every parent in our program receives a legal check-up and a social work case management plan.  That means we will help you obtain the legal and social services you need to keep your family safe and stable.

CPS Investigations and Expungement Hearings.

We are among the first programs in NYS funded to help parents with Child Welfare investigations.  We do advocacy for parents during the child protection investigation before a legal case is filed with the goal of avoiding a family court proceeding.  And for parents who have been through a child welfare investigation and now have a report at the State Central Register for Child Abuse and Neglect, we help clear their name so they can work in professions that serve children.

Article 10 Family Court Matters including Permanency Planning, Termination of Parental Rights and Appeals.

The mission of the Family Defense Unit is to keep families together.  The vast majority of cases filed against parents in Family Court are as result of poverty related legal issues.  LSHV’s Family Defense Team provides zealous advocacy in all court-based matters as well as social services and peer mentoring designed to reunite families as quickly as possible.  Additionally, every parent will receive a legal check-up and legal services aimed at addressing their related legal issues including eviction prevention, public benefits, social security, etc.  A full range of legal services will be provided to stabilize the family and help bring children home.

Kinship Unit

Westchester’s Kinship Unit helps grandparents, relatives, or non-biological parents raising children navigate civil legal issues. These include, but are not limited to custody, guardianship, housing, consumer debt, public benefits, education, and advance planning. Assisting Kinship Families with civil legal issues ensures stability for children being raised by non-biological parents.

In addition to providing civil legal assistance, the Kinship Unit offers legal education trainings to the Kinship Communities of Westchester County. These trainings aim to teach the kinship communities about their rights on a variety of legal topics.

If you are a kinship parent and need assistance or advice with civil legal issues, we can represent you. If you are a kinship parent or community partner and would like a legal education training, we can provide the training.

Family Services Society of Yonkers.

The Kinship Unit works closely with Family Services Society of Yonkers to provide referrals and assistance to kinship parents.

Older woman holding hands with a walking child