2015 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Laura Ferro

Laura Ferro

City, State: New York, New York
Issue area: Family Law, Children/Youth
Sponsors: Greenberg Traurig, LLP

The Project

Laura will prevent the traumatic and unnecessary removal of children from low-income families in the Bronx by providing advocacy and legal counsel to parents during child protective investigations. Laura will assist parents in addressing the crisis that brought their family to the attention of child protective services, help ensure that their rights are protected, and that they receive their day in court expeditiousl

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
The Bronx is the poorest borough in New York City: over 30% of its population lives in poverty. Parents living in poor communities of color are more likely to be targeted in child neglect and abuse investigations. The vast majority of these are based upon allegations of neglect due to circumstances caused by poverty and lack of resources. Because parents are unadvised, most are ill equipped to address or mitigate risk in order to avoid their children being removed or prevent a case from being filed against them in court. Consequently, children experience trauma unnecessarily and the system is burdened by court cases that preventative advocacy could have averted. Pre-filing representation of parents in the child welfare system is key to making the child welfare system produce just and fair results with a less traumatic impact on children.
The Right Person For This Project: 
Laura is the right person for the project because:
• She is passionate about providing direct service representation to clients who could not otherwise afford an attorney to help them navigate the complex legal system
• She has excellent interpersonal skills, which she has honed through numerous legal internships
• She is dedicated to fighting the injustice that often exists when poor families interact with the child welfare system, having witnessed this firsthand during her internship at Bronx Defenders
• She is not only a steadfast advocate, but also a trained mediator and skilled at managing conflict
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship: 
In the first six months, Laura will:
• Provide legal counsel and advocacy for parents during Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) investigations
• File demands in Bronx Family Court for pre-petition hearings in order to prevent emergency removals of children and force timely judicial review of removal decisions
• Represent parents in neglect and abuse proceedings in Bronx Family Court

© 2016 Equal Justice Works - 1730 M Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036-4511