Parents impacted by the NYC child welfare system urged City Council today to pass a package of bills to protect families during investigations and hold ACS accountable for its impact on low-income communities of color.
“Parents are coming in blindsided with no real guidance and no clear information from the start,” said Rise Senior Parent Leader Nancy Fortunato at today’s hearing of the General Welfare Committee.
Bills introduced by the Progressive Caucus would provide parents with legal representation from the beginning of an investigation and require ACS to provide a Miranda-style warning about parents’ rights.
“Every parent should have timely legal representation at the beginning and be informed of their rights,” Nancy said. “We cannot keep allowing this system to dictate what is best for our children and at the same time deny us of our legal rights.”
Rise board member Hope Newton and parent leaders Ray Watson and Careena Farmer shared their experiences “fighting a system that bigger than they are” and having to learn their rights from experience.
“Knocks on the door have caused my children to hide in my closet,” Careena testified.
“It took me 10 years to learn what I did and didn’t need to comply with,” Ray said. “How many parents don’t know their rights and have their children in ACS for another 10 years?”
Rise submitted additional written testimony to the NYC City Council on General Welfare in support of the package of bills.