Thursday, October 1, 2009

Brooklyn Family Court judge refuses to terminate parental rights of incarcerated, illiterate dad

Kings County (Brooklyn, NY) Family Court Judge J. Alan Beckoff denied a petition to terminate the parental rights of an incarcerated father late last week. In the matter of Jayquan J., SCO Family of Services, a foster care agency, petitioned the court to terminate the parental rights of Clint J., saying that he had made no efforts to contact his child and had abandoned the child, therefore his consent was not needed to put Jayquan up for adoption.

"Teresa Tucker, the SCO caseworker, testified that Jayquan has been in a non-kinship foster home since entering foster care; that Respondent had no contact with him in the six-month period preceding the filing of the petition; that the agency had not discouraged Respondent from visiting or contacting Jayquan; that Respondent had not sent any cards, gifts, or letters to Jayquan; and that no one had come forward on Respondent's behalf. Ms. Tucker also testified that going back to May 2006, when Jayquan first came into SCO's care, Respondent did not have any contact with the child or the agency and had paid no support."

The judge found Tucker's testimony believable, but said in his decision, the agency treated the termination of parental rights in a perfunctory manner, acting as if Mr. J. "was little more than a technicality that had [to] be covered for the termination to go forward."

The court found the testimony of Clint J. to be credible, and his testimony underscores the difficulties that parents who are illiterate and/or incarcerated face when a petition is filed to terminate their parental rights. Mr. J testified "that he told Becky C. that he wanted to get in touch with Jayquan either directly or through other individuals, but that he never got any addresses or contact information from the "foster people" and so did not know how to contact the New York City Administration for Children's Services ("ACS"). He said that he had no addresses or phone numbers for ACS caseworkers and that he wanted to send Jayquan clothing and cards but did not know where to send anything."


Brooklyn Family Court judge refuses to terminate parental rights of incarcerated, illiterate dad

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