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dianes09

Parents Rights in California

6 posts in this topic

I am aware there are occasions when parental rights can be terminated. But what exactly are my rights as a parent in California? Can you direct me to the appropriate Civil, Family or Welfare and Institutions Code(s)?

Thanks

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Your question is incredibly vague. Parents have dozens of rights which are contained throughout the California Constitution and Codes, and I can't conceive what useful purpose it might serve to try and compile a list of all legal rights. Is there something in particular you want to know or is there a particular situation that prompted you to post this inquiry?

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To be more specific, I provide public policy consulting for a California advocacy organization which specializes in children's mental health. Our CEO is contemplating duplicating what several other states have done and that is to propose a Parent's Bill of Rights. Many parents are unaware of what their rights are, for example, many children with mental health challenges end up in special education, and although parents don't always agree with the contents of an Individualized Education Plan, they are unaware they are not required to sign the document when the meeting ends. When working with mental health professionals, parents may not necessarily agree with the treatment plan but acquiesce in order to keep the peace. Parents need to know what their rights are specifically, and instead of reinventing the wheel, it would be nice to build off of what is existing in California law. I'm not necessarily asking for a compilation, rather direction to the appropriate law(s). There are many references to parents rights and termination of parents rights in the Family Law Code and Welfare and Institutions Code, but never are the legal codes for the actual rights cited. Thank you for your assistance. It is greatly appreciated.

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"Our CEO is contemplating duplicating what several other states have done and that is to propose a Parent's Bill of Rights."

Other than certain states' education systems, I'm not clear what (s)he's referring to. While you don't make it clear, this seems to suggest that you're proposing a set of laws not unlike, for instance, the Passenger Bill of Rights, that outlines new rights/laws as it relates to airline passengers vs., say, the equivalent of parental Miranda rights.

"When working with mental health professionals, parents may not necessarily agree with the treatment plan but acquiesce in order to keep the peace."

I would presume you know better than we whether the parents are afraid someone will refer the matter to, say, children's protective services. As for giving them confidence (by way of a printed pamphlet that points out certain obvious bits) to tell whomever that they're grateful for the suggestion(s) but have decided to go another way (or do nothing at all), that wouldn't seem to involve a legal issue.

"Parents need to know what their rights are specifically, and instead of reinventing the wheel, it would be nice to build off of what is existing in California law."

It's not clear what you mean by "reinventing the wheel", and I wouldn't presume some (other) advocacy group in CA hasn't prepared a booklet or pamphlet that points out the obvious and not-so obvious to parents: that they aren't obligated to acquiesce to whatever requests or suggestions or demands are made of them, yet making them aware of what authority/power X-Y-Z entities may invoke if they are irked that the parent doesn't agree.

"I'm not necessarily asking for a compilation, rather direction to the appropriate law(s)."

You're asking for someone to cite every statute that refers to a parent's rights as to ... any topic? Or just mental health? Either way, beyond the scope of the board.

" There are many references to parents rights and termination of parents rights in the Family Law Code and Welfare and Institutions Code, but never are the legal codes for the actual rights cited."

This is a bit garbled, but most statutes, if they are referring to something elsewhere, will cite the relevant statute being referred to. Otherwise, if a given statute/code mentions a given right, then with this it seems you're saying you expect the language in a given statute/code to cite ... itself.

Sounds like the advocacy group should be discussing this with a local family law attorney, after doing some more research to see what other groups have put out there.

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dianes09 said...

To be more specific, I provide public policy consulting for a California advocacy organization which specializes in children's mental health. Our CEO is contemplating duplicating what several other states have done and that is to propose a Parent's Bill of Rights.

I assume the goal would be to propose this to the Legislature.

If you want to do something like that, you really should hire an attorney to work with you on it. You could say, "do parents have the right to do ___," and the attorney could research the applicable law and either say, "yes" or "no, but they have the right to do ___." That would be a much more efficient way than trying to comb the federal and state Constitutions, all 29 California Codes, and case decisions in order to compile some sort of comprehensive list. It also begs the question how specific you want to get. Fundamentally, parents have the right to direct and control their children's upbringing. That's all well and good in the abstract, but what does it really mean? You mentioned a couple very specific issues in your follow up post, and, if you want to get into that level of detail, this would become quite a massive project.

dianes09 said...

Many parents are unaware of what their rights are, for example, many children with mental health challenges end up in special education, and although parents don't always agree with the contents of an Individualized Education Plan, they are unaware they are not required to sign the document when the meeting ends.

Putting aside the fact that no one is required to sign anything, this is the sort of thing that could be researched -- i.e., what can a parent do in terms of disapproving of or contesting an IEP?

dianes09 said...

Parents need to know what their rights are specifically

I think that goes a bit far. I'm a lawyer in California and also a parent, but I can't say that I know all of my rights as a parent, and I certainly don't feel that my knowledge is somehow lacking as a result.

dianes09 said...

instead of reinventing the wheel, it would be nice to build off of what is existing in California law.

Well, that's certainly true since you cannot properly compile a list of legal rights without reference to the law.

dianes09 said...

I'm not necessarily asking for a compilation, rather direction to the appropriate law(s).

As I said, legal rights are scattered throughout the state Constitution and the Codes. I don't know if you've ever looked at a full set of codes, but it's not like leafing through a pamphlet. A full set of code books contains well over 100 volumes, each of which is about 2 inches thick. And, while I don't imagine there's much of anything in the Fish and Game Code, the Harbors and Navigation Code, or the Streets and Highways Code, looking at a list of all the Codes (http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html), I feel pretty confident saying that at least 10 of them probably have substantial material on this topic.

dianes09 said...

There are many references to parents rights and termination of parents rights in the Family Law Code and Welfare and Institutions Code, but never are the legal codes for the actual rights cited.

I'm not sure what you're looking at, but a termination of rights necessarily encompasses all rights, whatever they may be or wherever they may be found.

I appreciate what you're trying to do, but I think either I don't fully understand you or you don't appreciate what an involved project it is.

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