Curtail the Racist ‘Child Welfare’ System

Act Now

New York’s so-called child-welfare system – better understood as the family regulation system – puts thousands of mostly Black and Brown families under a microscope. Case workers turn families’ lives upside down and threaten them with separation, often based on bogus reports of abuse.

ADD YOUR NAME: Help ensure sure parents can make informed decisions that best protect their families before case workers come bursting through their doors.

Message recipients:
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Your representatives

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I’m writing to bring to your attention the damage caused by the “child welfare system,” better understood as the family regulation system.

Black families in New York are seven times as likely as white families to be reported to the family regulation system and 13 times more likely to have their children removed. The majority of these families are reported for neglect, not abuse, which is often code for circumstances related to poverty.

A knock on the door from a child protective investigator can lead to a parent’s children being taken away for years – if not forever – or being placed under invasive supervision by local authorities. Despite these high stakes, parents are not entitled to a “Miranda warning” like they would receive in the criminal context. Many parents are therefore confused about their rights in such situations and are coaxed into making statements or agreements against their own interest.

This session, the Legislature must pass family Miranda legislation (S.901) requiring child protective workers to give parents notice of their rights when they initially investigate families, including the right not to make statements or sign releases and to consult with an attorney.

The Legislature should also pass the anti-harassment in reporting bill (S.902) to prohibit anonymous reports to the State Central Register. Anonymous calls are often used to harass or threaten parents, and the inherent lack of accountability in anonymous reporting casts doubt on the reliability of those reports. By requiring confidential, rather than anonymous, reporting, lawmakers can help reduce unnecessary family intervention without compromising child safety.

Taking these steps will help put families on a level playing field and reduce the harms caused by the pernicious and unaccountable family regulation system. I strongly urge you to do so.


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