A Look Into Legal with Chief Counsel Carey Haley Wong
Posted on February 13th, 2015
I graduated law school in 2002 at IU. I then started working at as attorney at DCS in 2002. Afterwards I became chief counsel of Marion County office in 2009. Two years later, I became an attorney at Child Advocates.
As a staff attorney I handled TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) cases, contested adoption and immigration cases. This also included name changes, protective orders and guardianship’s.
Contested adoption is typically when a relative and a foster parent are both trying to adopt the same child. Child Advocates will be appointed to advocate for the best interest of the child.
Immigration cases are very interesting because we have a means of obtaining residency fairly quickly for children that are involved in CHINS cases. There is a process (Special Immigrant Juvenile Status) we can go to that can faster attain their permanency in the US (as long as they are not reunifying with parents). There are several interesting cases we have had here: children from Darfur and children who are so young they are not even sure how they got here. Thus begins the process of finding their birth certificates and getting their permanent legal status as at US citizen.
Guardianship’s: a permanency plan when the state decides that they cannot be reunified with their parents. It is typically CA that will petition for guardianship’s. Parents are not losing their status as parents but they do not have legal custody. Guardianship is different from adoption in this way. —- The most common situation here is when a parent is incarcerated, but at some point in the future might be able to parent.
“What is really amazing about being an attorney here is we are able to do whatever we need to do in order to protect the best interest of the child.”
In 2012 I became Chief Counsel. Now I supervise staff of attorneys. There are 5 attorneys on staff at Child Advocates I supervise. I also do a lot more work on the policy and contract side of the office. I work more on business side of things, rather than cases which are typically worked on by the staff. I will occasionally work on cases as I have the time.
“What I like most about my job is doing the legal training for volunteers, as part of the volunteer classes. I also do legal training throughout the year for staff and volunteers. It’s really fun to explain the legal part of the child welfare system to new people. I love that the volunteers come in and they are so passionate about working one on one with children. I enjoy working with them and seeing their dedication.”