Legal Aid Society


LAS Decries City Policy Forcing Children to Sleep in Classrooms

The Legal Aid Society decried the Adams Administration over the Administration for Children’s Services’ (ACS) new practice of condemning children to sleep in congregate classrooms in juvenile detention, as reported by Gothamist/WNYC.

Children as young as 14-years-old have reported sleeping on cots on the floor in classrooms, as opposed to single occupancy rooms as regularly required by New York State regulation.

Children represented by Legal Aid have also reported random assaults due to tensions arising from the lack of assignment to a housing hall; difficulty sleeping due to fears for their safety; hours-long waits to simply use the shower and restroom; and an inability to secure clean clothing.

Last week, in response to these startling revelations, Legal Aid demanded an explanation from ACS and learned that ACS had secured a waiver from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) from the requirement that each child charged as a juvenile delinquent or juvenile offender ages 13 and up be housed in a single room. This waiver has been in effect since October 25, 2023, and it remains unclear exactly how many children have been impacted by the new practice.

“Condemning children, including those we serve as young as 14-years-old, to sleep in congregate classrooms is reckless and compromises their safety,” said Dawne Mitchell, Chief Attorney of the Juvenile Rights Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “We have received frantic calls from children and their parents in response to a situation that is both unacceptable and untenable.”

“The Adams Administration and ACS had ample time to account for the increase in census but failed to prepare,” she continued. “We demand a solution to ensure that children are safe and that facility conditions are appropriate, and we are considering all options – including litigation – should this policy continue.”