Bronx ACS Oversteps Its Boundaries
A 10-year-old girl's mother thought she was doing the right thing when she vented her frustrations to her NYC ACS caseworker that she often times felt frustrated with her daughter's temper tantrums.
Her 10 year-old had been diagnosed with ADHD. The agency had been involved with the mother due to the domestic violence she and her daughter had suffered at the hands of her former boyfriend. The agency was simply supposed to be providing "preventative services" to the mother and child. These would be things like assistance with counseling, transportation and housing. She never in a million years dreamed that confiding in the child welfare worker would result in her daughter being taken away from her.
Our Bronx ACS lawyers recognize that this may be an all too common scenario, not only in the Bronx but throughout New York City. Case workers are trained to work closely with families in need. They gain the trust of the families with whom they work. The problem is that many of these caseworkers are often over-worked and underpaid. They don't always have the time or resources to launch a proper abuse or neglect investigation. But they don't want to be the one left holding the bag if something happens to the child. Believe it or not, it becomes an easier job for them to simply have the child removed.
One option for children fighting to regain custody of their children is a program called the Child Welfare Organizing Project. It's a peer-to-peer guidance and counseling operation that offers an outlet for parents accused of neglect or abuse. Fellow graduates are then asked to attend the child safety conferences of their peers.
The program was founded in 2007 in Harlem. Records show that in looking at data from 2010 to 2012, those parents who were involved in CWOP lost custody of their children in 15.5 percent fewer cases. A similar program offered by the Center for Development and Family Services Inc. is available in the Bronx, Staten Island and Manhattan.
What is likely to help to an even greater degree would be the involvement of a Brooklyn attorney experienced in handling ACS cases. While a parent peer advocate can attest to the judge your commitment to improved parenting, your attorney can aggressively challenge any unsubstantiated claims, request certain claims be returned unfounded and ask that your record be expunged.
The good news is that the ACS workers have become less inclined than they were just a few decades ago to put children in foster care. Where there were 50,000 children from New York City in foster care back in the early 1990s, that number is now down to about 12,100.
Still, for those families stuck in the system, it can have a profoundly damaging and long lasting effect. We are dedicated to helping families reunite - and remain together.
If you are the subject of an ACS investigation in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan or Queens call our offices at (888) 501-3292.