They demand to pass a law that informs parents supervised by a Children’s Services agency in NYC about their rights

“Don’t take our children from us”that was the clamor that this Wednesday dozens of families that have or have had investigations with the Big Apple Agency for Children’s Services (ACS)mostly Latinas, blacks and immigrants, demonstrated in front of the City Hall and City Council building.

With posters and harangues, in which they denounced that ACS has spent years promoting racist and discriminatory practices to remove minors from their homes, based on “addictive” investigationsthe protesters called for that agency to provide dignified treatment to families of color, beginning with inform the investigated parents about the rights they have in their processes.

Activists, defenders and political leaders made an urgent call to the Municipal Council to approve the so-called initiative Miranda Familywhich would force ACS inspectors to read the list of rights to parents and guardians of children when they are investigated, just as the police do when they arrest a person in criminal proceedings.

The councilor Carlina Riverapromoter of the municipal initiative, announced that it will once again promote the bill in the City Council, which would require ACS social workers to provide families with their rights verbally and in writing.

We are facing an agency that is committing abuses against our Latino and Afro families and the least we can demand that they do is inform parents about their rights and options, in their own language,” said the legislator.

Rivera revealed with data, the disproportionate way in which ACS acts against families of color, which would be proof of its discriminatory processes.

“Most of the families that approach me to ask for help and denounce ACS are Latino and Afro; from 60,000 families investigated each year, 87% are Latino and Afroso approving this law is the opportunity to start seeing urgent changes that need to be promoted,” said the Lower Manhattan legislator.

state senator Jabari Brisportlashed out at ACS and called for an end to the discriminatory treatment towards Latino and black families and said that in the end, most of the investigations that the agency carries out do not find anything substantial, but they have already done the damage, creating trauma in the communities.

“This Miranda legislation is something of common sense and respect for families that are struggling every day to get ahead and give their children what they deserve, but the system wants to continue treating our parents differently,” said the legislator from Albany. “Tell us if you think these parents don’t have rights, tell us if you think these parents don’t deserve lawyers, and then we can have another conversation, but We cannot continue with a system that gives some parents rights and not othersWell, what we need is for there to be stable families and not for them to be separated”.

The “Familia Miranda” piece of law would make parents aware of their rights, so they can seek a lawyer before answering questions, or request that ACS issue a court order before conducting a home inspection.

Protesters denounced that ACS opposes the approval of the legislation of the Miranda Family, even though a recent internal audit found that agency staff agree with parents and advocates about their complaints. The internal report said, according to the complainants, that the workers agreed that ACS subjects families to unfair surveillance, does not make “reasonable efforts” to keep families together and encourages staff to “be invasive and not tell parents their rights.

“The most basic step to shrinking the family regulation system and ending racial discrimination is simply telling parents their rightsbut ACS refuses to do that,” he said. Carmen Pineirowho experienced firsthand intrusive visits to his home and insisted that the agency is “racist” and must begin a path to amend its failures.

“As a Latina woman living in the Bronx, where Raymundo and the whole world have experienced these ACS abuses, I say that it is time for them to stop with that, because they take our children from us for being poor. Because they enter the houses and look at a fridge or a drawer or if they don’t see a bed. But instead of taking children away and giving checks to other people why don’t they give poor families money so they can better have their children“added the Latina mother.

Queens Councilor, Krishnan’s yearwho as a child claimed to have experienced moments of excessive surveillance by ACS in his family, urged the Big Apple to side with parents and children and not be separated for no reason.

“Family separation occurs right here in New York due to cruel practices by ACS that overwhelmingly targets Black and Latino families,” said the municipal legislator. “We must ensure that families are fully aware of their rights when they come into contact with ACS investigators and to ensure that in immigrant communities like the ones I represent, their rights are given in an accessible language.”

Another municipal initiative, promoted by Councilor Sandra Ungseeks ACS to provide a multilingual disclosure form to parents or guardians during a child protection investigation in the parents’ languages ​​to ensure they have a better understanding of their rights.

“A visit from an ACS social worker is a terrifying experience for any parent or carer, and the initial shock and confusion makes thinking clearly and rationally understandably difficult,” Councilwoman Ung said. “They may unknowingly consent to a search or sign a legal document without understanding the implications of their actions.”

Following the accusations against the Children’s Services agency, ACS Commissioner Jess Dannhauser, warned that his office is committed to keeping children safe while also addressing the systemic racial disparities that exist in child well-being.

“We value the perspectives of those with lived experiences in the child welfare system and are committed to providing parents with written materials at their doorstep that will help them better understand their rights when accused of child abuse or neglect,” he said. the official.

The ACS Commissioner also said that in addition to transmitting to families the rights they have, that agency will continue to work to prevent more children from entering the child welfare system when they are removed from their homes.

“We will continue our work to narrow the front door into the child welfare system by investing in communities and working with external stakeholders to help us reduce unwarranted reports to the State’s child abuse hotline so we can better focus our enforcement resources. child protection in those who really need it”, Dannhauser added.

The Children’s Services agency further highlighted that it has worked to end racial inequality, so in 2020, they sought grants to work with the National Innovation Service (NIS) to promote equity both in ACS and within the welfare system. childish.

They also mentioned that they have made progress in reducing unnecessary reportingBecause while state law requires that any time they submit a report of possible child abuse or maltreatment, ACS Child Protection must promptly assess the safety of the children and the home, they are clear that not all reports to the statewide hotline child abuse are necessary.

Therefore, the agency ensures that they are educating professionals who work with children and families on the many ways to support families without making an unnecessary report to the state’s child abuse hotline, when there is no reason to suspect that a child may have been abused or maltreated.

Recommendations from organizations that report systemic failures in ACS:

  • Establish and provide government funding and support for an Accountability Plan.
  • Create a group led by parents and youth with lived experience in regulating the family system and informed and engaged community leaders
  • Preserve and expand investments in families and communities before a family separation occurs and reduce investments in surveillance
  • Provide direct assistance to families and community organizations
  • Dedicate new investments to the families most affected by family regulation and to the communities with the most investigations and removals of children
  • Include community members on Family Court judicial appointment committees
  • provide public comment on proposed Family Court appointments, and
  • prioritize the appointment of judges who have personal connections to the family regulation system
  • Expand and improve legal representation for parents to improve access to justice by requiring child protective services investigators to provide notice of their rights, including in written forms that describe those rights
  • in multiple languages ​​for parents with limited English proficiency.

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