Teen rights


1. Education

  • School Activities - Pregnant and Parenting teens CAN NOT be excluded from a school's educational program, including class or extracurricular activity, because they are pregnant, have a child or have had an abortion.
    The school may require that the student obtain a doctor's note stating that they are able to participate in school activities, but ONLY IF IT IS REQUIRED OF ALL STUDENTS THAT HAVE CONDITIONS REQUIRING MEDICAL ATTENTION.
  • Alternative Programs - A Pregnant or Parenting Student CAN NOT be forced to transfer into an alternative program. The decision to attend an alternative school is completely up to the student and must be voluntary.
  • Accommodations - If you are pregnant and unable to climb the stairs, you must be permitted access to the ELEVATOR.
  • Absences for Medical Appointments - are considered excused and students must be permitted to make up the missed work.
  • Medical Leave - The school must allow students to take a medical leave of absence for reasons of pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage, abortion and recovery…"for as long a period of time as the physician feels is medically necessary."
  • Home Instruction - A student can apply for home instruction if the doctor determines that she needs to stay home from school for 4 WEEKS OR MORE, however she is not necessarily entitled to the home instruction based on the availability of programming.
  • Physical Education - Schools can not refuse students participation in physical education class or sports teams because they are pregnant. A student may be excused with a doctor's note, stating that they can not take part due to a medical condition.
  • Confidentiality - As per NYS law, a pregnant student's communications with a school nurse, licensed school psychologist, and/or licensed social worker must be kept confidential unless the student gives permission for disclosures.
2. Child Care
  • Eligibility - Teen parents are generally eligible for child care paid for by the government, which means that they can apply but are not guaranteed services. Teen Parents can increase their priority status by attending an educational program and/or work program.
    • 1-800-345-KIDS is the NYS Parents Connection which can provide options for child care and information related to choosing a safe program for your child.
    • Young Parents Program - Teen Parents who are currently enrolled in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District are eligible for the Young Parents Program, which provides daycare for children of teen parents in the district while they attend school.
  • Work Activities - A teen parent with her own family assistance budget may be excused from work activities if she is unable to find a child care provider that is appropriate, affordable, accessible and suitable, however, she must demonstrate that she is making efforts to locate a child care provider.

3. Healthcare

  • Consent - In New York State, a minor CAN consent to all family planning services including abortion, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted Infection and HIV/AIDS testing.
    • Minors can also consent to mental health and substance abuse services and emergency healthcare without parental involvement. All of the above services are CONFIDENTIAL except Emergency Healthcare.
    • A teen parent can consent to all medical care related to pregnancy and childbirth.
    • Teen parents can consent to all health care for themselves and their child.
  • Medicaid - If you are a pregnant teen, you can obtain confidential healthcare through the Medicaid program including PCAP (Prenatal Care Assistance Program) or CHP (Child Health Plus).
    • Medicaid and Child Health Plus A cover abortion services (Child Health Plus B does not cover abortion as it is considered an "elective surgery").
    • If you are already covered by Medicaid or CHP, prenatal care is covered.
      1. MISN - call to set up an appointment with a facilitated enroller for PCAP or Medicaid (845-928-7448 or 1-800-453-4666.
      2. Local Family Planning Clinics can assist with the enrollment process.
    • Medicaid AUTOMATICALLY covers infants born to mother's on regular Medicaid or PCAP until they are one year old. Mothers are covered for 60 DAYS after the birth.
    • Almost all teen mothers who are under the age of 19 and are not eligible for Medicaid, will qualify for CHP B (eligibility is based on family size, age and gross monthly income.
  • Immigrants - Teen parents who are immigrants can apply for health insurance for their children and sometimes themselves regardless of whether or not they are documented
    • Immigration status should remain confidential unless there is evidence that false information has been provided
    • After giving birth, the teen parent will have to answer questions regarding immigration status in order to continue receiving benefits
    • PCAP/Medicaid - B a pregnant teen can not be required to provide information regarding immigration status when applying
    • CHP - teenagers under the age of 19 are eligible regardless of immigration status.
4. Establishing Paternity (Legal Determination of who child's father is.)
  • When a man is married to the child's mother, it is presumed that he is the father and he automatically has all the legal rights associated with being a father. He is legally obligated to help support the child financially.
  • When unmarried, paternity must be established in order to have a legal relationship to the child

    ** Putting the father's name on the BIRTH CERTIFICATE or giving the child the father's last name DOES NOT establish paternity!!!**

  1. AKNOWLEDGEMENT OF PATERNITY - this is a document signed by the mother, father and TWO unrelated witnesses when parents are in agreement as to the child's paternity. This can be done at the hospital when the child is born or through county offices.
  2. COURT ORDER OF FILIATION - when there is disagreement as to the child's paternity, Family Court can require blood tests to establish paternity and order financial support.

5. Custody

  • A parent with legal custody has the right to make decisions for the child and the responsibility to provide for the child.
  • Natural Parents - their right supercede that of all others so long as they have not been deemed unfit.
  • Unmarried Mothers - automatically have custody of their child, regardless of her age!
  • Unmarried Fathers - must establish paternity in order to claim custody rights, which are then equal to those of the mother.
  • Married Parents - share equal custody rights.
**When there is disagreement over who should have custody of the child, the matter can be resolved by Family Court, who will make the decision based on the "BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD".

6. Child Support

  • Both parents are expected to provide financial support for the care, maintenance and education of any child under the age of 21.
  • If unmarried, paternity must be established before the father is obligated to pay support. If the unmarried father is unwilling to acknowledge paternity or pay support, the mother can bring him to Family Court so that child support can be ordered by the court.
    • When an unmarried mother applies for Public Assistance, the welfare office will request information regarding child support. If support is not being received by the mother, the welfare office will seek out the father in order to obtain the support from him.
    • Women are at risk for losing Public Assistance benefits if they refuse to give the information needed to locate the father. Only the mother's needs can be excluded from the assistance amount and the children will continue to receive benefits.
    • "Good Cause" - if the mother fears that she or her child would be placed in physical or emotional danger if she were to provide information about the father she can not be forced to do so or penalized for withholding the information.

7. Visitation Rights for Unmarried Parents

  • When Parents can not agree on visitation, either parent to go to family court to seek visitation rights.
  • Paternity must be established before a visitation order will be issued by Family Court
  • Visitation can be denied if there is a possibility of harm to the child.
  • Visitation rights can be grated as part of a support case.
8. Adoption
  • A parent can place a child up for adoption regardless of the parent's age. The decision to release a child for adoption is not easily taken back.
    1. Private Adoption - the biological and adoptive parents agree to an adoption outside of a courtroom - there is no judge or hearing. This agreement can be revoked within a small window of time, which is usually defined by the initial agreement.
    2. Judicial Consent - the birth mother consents to the adoption before a judge and it is considered irrevocable.
    • Consent is not considered valid unless it is given after the baby is born. It can not be given as the result of duress, coercion or fraud.
      • An unmarried father must assume either primary custody or substantial responsibilities for the child if he wants to prevent adoption.
      • Paternity must be established and financial assistance provided to the mother during the pregnancy and one the child is born.

    **An Unmarried Mother can place a child under 6 months old up for adoption WITHOUT the father's consent. The father can attempt to block the adoption only if he seeks full custody of the child.**

    What will be considered by the court if the father seeks to block the adoption??

    1. Did the father claim to be the father in the period before birth?
    2. Did he pay any portion of the pregnancy and birthing expenses?
    3. Were any formal steps taken to establish paternity after the child's birth?
  • After 6 months of age, consent of unmarried fathers is only required in certain cases if the father has: **Maintained a SUBSTANTIAL and CONTINUOUS relationship with the child including financial support and regular visitation and communication.
  • If there is evidence that the father intended to give up his parental rights by failing to maintain contact with either the mother or the child, the mother can place the child up for adoption without consent.

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