Outraged parent reps in New York are calling for Albany to pass a “Miranda Rights” bill for ACS before questioning

ALBANY – Outraged parents are calling on state lawmakers to stop New York City from targeting their families without informing them of their rights in child welfare investigations.

Under current law, the city’s child care department is required to visit homes to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect.

But critics say they’re getting it all wrong — particularly when it comes to dealing with black and Hispanic families.

“They deliberately deny you your rights and scare you with threats of taking your children away,” Tanesha Grant, a black mother of three from Washington Heights, said of her previous run-ins with the city agency, which never confirmed any of the 20 allegations against she.

“They always tried to force me and scare me that if I didn’t do it, I would somehow lose my children [obey] them.”

That can mean caseworkers conducting indoor investigations, participating in drug tests or psychological assessments, or letting them speak to children unprepared for the legal ramifications a stray comment could have for their own parents.

Proposed state legislation would require child welfare officials statewide to inform families of their legal rights before pressuring them to cooperate with the investigation. However, it remains unclear whether Albany Democrats will approve the idea before the 2023 legislative session ends on June 8.

State Senator Jabari Brisport stands in front of a brownstone staircase in the state capital
State Senator Jabari Brisport noted that Texas state lawmakers passed legislation similar to his own proposal earlier this year.
Zach Williams/NY Post

The bill aligns with the “Miranda Rights,” which a landmark 1966 US Supreme Court ruling required police to provide to suspects upon arrest.

“Under the Fourth Amendment, government employees must obtain a court order to search a home,” Rep. Latrice Walker (D-Brooklyn) said of the bill she is introducing with State Senator Jabari Brisport (D-Brooklyn).

A Study 2019 A study by the Center for New York City Affairs found that neighborhoods with relatively high black populations, like Mott Haven in the Bronx, have seven times more child protection screenings than whiter and more affluent neighborhoods like Greenwich Village in Manhattan.

“Current policies exploit and exacerbate inequalities within the system. Black, brown and low-income families are not only the most likely to be targeted by caseworkers, they are also less likely to have access to legal advice or counseling when child protection workers come knocking on their door.”

People march on a New York street with signs saying things like
Parent advocates say the Children’s Services Administration routinely disregards families’ rights and urges them to seek information about suspected child abuse or neglect.
Erik McGregor/Sipa USA

ACS prosecutors can only seek a court order if they’re trying to get a parent or guardian to voluntarily respond to allegations of neglect or abuse — a step they pursue in just 0.2% of tens of thousands of cases each year. ProPublica reported in October.

“They claim the other 99.8% of homes are entered with ‘voluntary consent’, but this often involves threatening to call the police and other methods of coercion. Most parents are unaware of their right to refuse entry,” Walker added.

ACS data shows 59,001 allegations in 2022 and 55,345 in 2021 submitted by the state, with 29.2% and 33.9% of those cases confirmed by investigators, respectively.

Courts are involved in less than 10% of cases.

Latrice Walker speaks from a podium outside the state Senate room, three people behind her.
MP Latrice Walker found that child welfare officials disproportionately target minority families.
Zach Williams/NY Post

An ACS spokesman expressed support for the legislation without directly endorsing the proposal in its written form.

“ACS supports legislation that would require child protection specialists to provide verbal and written information to parents of their rights at first contact. We look forward to legislation that balances both the need for parents to be informed of their rights and the need for child protection agencies to assess the safety of children who have been reported as potentially abused or neglected.”

The agency is currently running a pilot program testing the idea of ​​informing parents of their rights before collecting information that could be used against them.

If passed by the Senate and the state assembly and signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul, caseworkers would have to present in the family’s “preferred language” that they could refuse to work with them pending a court order.

A similar suggestion was passed by the Texas state legislature earlier this year and is awaiting approval from Gov. Greg Abbot.

“I can’t imagine how Texas of all places can beat New York in that regard,” said Brisport. “Texas is not considered a bastion of racial equality.”


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing diza@ustimetoday.com.

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