Legal Aid Society


Op-Ed: The Harmful Impact of Invasive Child Welfare Investigations

Dawne Mitchell, Chief Attorney of The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice, has written a new op-ed for City Limits on the harm caused by invasive child welfare investigations.

Melissa Friedman, Director of Legal Aid’s Child Welfare Training, and Daniella Rohr, an attorney with Legal Aid’s Immigration Law Unit Youth Project, are co-authors of the piece, which details severe over-investigation by the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) and the traumatic practices that agency ploys.

“These rates of over-investigation are state-sanctioned family policing. Even where investigations are warranted and allegations are substantiated, the investigative process is often coercive and traumatic, indelibly harming the children the investigations intend to protect,” they write in part. “ACS investigations [are] particularly disturbing when accounting for race. Nearly one out of every two Black children in New York City has been, or will be, the subject of an ACS investigation by the time they turn 18. These numbers alone are an urgent cry for change.”

Legal Aid is calling for multiple first steps to address the issue, including for ACS to strengthen its screening process and to end abusive investigative tactics such as middle of the night home visits and the strip-searching of children.

Multiple pieces of statewide legislation will also be required to deter false reporting and ensure parents are advised of their rights.

Read the full piece here.