Defenders Reaffirm Call for Legislature to Enact Four Bills that Empower Families Before the End of Session

New York, NY – On Tuesday May 28, the New York Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report “Examining the New York Child Welfare System and its Impact on Black Children and Families.” Following the report’s release, The Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, and Center for Family Representation issued the following statement:

“We welcome the Commission’s investigation and report focusing on the particular harms of the state’s family policing system – also known as the child welfare system – on Black children and families. We agree that it is vital to address the long-standing harm and trauma this system inflicts on the families it targets and the need to replace it with direct resources and support for families and children. We applaud the Commission’s approach and recommendations that push to the forefront the experiences and recommendations of Black families impacted by the family policing system.

“As the Commission’s report acknowledges, the long-documented racial disparities in New York City’s so-called ‘child welfare system’ are rooted in the country’s violent history of systematically separating Black families, and cannot simply be attributed to disparate rates of alleged child maltreatment and poverty alone. The report also makes clear that New York’s complex web of laws, policies, and agency practices directed at families and children continue to systematically target, investigate, report, harass, and separate families on the basis of race.

“We commend the Commission’s emphasis in their recommendations on the need to create a new paradigm that emphasizes prevention, direct subsidies, and crucially, family integrity over family separation. Critically, the Commission highlights the need to transform federal legislation such as the Child Abuse Prevention and Treament Act (CAPTA) to reorient funding to families, and end mass surveillance under mandated reporting requirements. The Commission listened carefully and took seriously the testimony and solutions offered by dozens of parents and families who have been impacted by New York’s racist family policing system.

“Finally, we wholly endorse the Commission’s recommendations for the New York Legislature to pass, and for the Governor to sign into law, four bills —The Informed Consent ActThe Family Miranda Rights Act,  The Anti-Harassment in Reporting Act, and The Preserving Families Bond Act— that will help to keep families out of the family policing system and reduce the harm caused by separation for those already ensnared. We urge the State Legislature to ratify these bills before the session ends this week.”