VOLS Incarcerated Mothers Law Project Training

  • Children's Rights

In the Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) Incarcerated Mothers Law Project (IMLP), pro bono lawyers provide one-on-one legal counseling to mothers on child custody and visiting issues at the city's jail on Rikers Island and at a medium security prison, Taconic Correctional Facility located in Bedford Hills, NY. The purpose of the project is to help incarcerated mothers know and assert their rights; understand their responsibilities, and exercise legal options available to them while they are in jail or prison.

The project provides training and mentoring by experienced family law attorneys. Both lawyers with and without family law experience are welcome to participate. A written training manual is also provided to pro bono lawyers. A VOLS family law consultant attends the monthly legal counseling visits at the prisons along with the pro bono lawyers and is available for ongoing mentoring and consultation on cases.

Training introduces volunteer lawyers to the child welfare system in New York and covers issues including child abuse and neglect, foster care placement, custody, visitation, guardianship and the impact of the Adoption and Safe Families Act on incarcerated parents.

The next training session will be held on Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 6 - 9pm at Davis, Polk & Wardwell, 450 Lexington Avenue. Pre - registration is necessary. Email Sara Effron at seffron@volsprobono.org with your contact information and a brief statement about your interest in the project.

Pro bono lawyers assist mothers in these ways: work with foster care agencies to bring children who are in foster care for visits with their mothers; locate children within the foster care system; negotiate with family members and friends to bring children in their care for visits with their mothers; assist mothers to prepare for court hearings; document measures they have taken while in prison or jail to maintain contact with their children and improve parenting skills; coordinate with the incarcerated mother's court appointed counsel for her family court case; obtain court records; review and explain legal documents; and when necessary, commence legal proceedings in Family Court to order visits between mothers and their children.