Redefining public defense.

The Bronx Defenders Family Defense

Filter Magazine: What Harm Reductionists Think About Sesame Street’s Addiction Representation

“Dinah Ortiz, a parent advocate supervisor at The Bronx Defenders and a Filter contributor, is concerned that Sesame Street’s focus on the disease model of addiction, and not drug use more generally—which ranges from from abstinence to chaotic and out of control—could add fuel to the fire of child-parent separations that target parents of color. “Sesame Street…

The Appeal Podcast: The War On Drugs Continues In Family Court

“As cannabis use is legalized in more and more jurisdictions across the country, child welfare systems aren’t always keeping pace. Allegations of drug use are still raised in family court, particularly against parents of color, and those who admit using cannabis are often subject to heightened surveillance. We are joined today by Miriam Mack and…

Cuny Law Review: Accidents Happen: Exposing Fallacies in Child Protection Abuse Cases and Reuniting Families Through Aggressive Litigation

“In New York City, much needed-critical attention has been paid to the racial disproportionality and overreach of the city’s child welfare system, the Administration for Children’s Services (“ACS”), and its conflation of poverty with neglect. The vast majority of child protection cases brought in New York City allege child neglect rather than abuse. This article…

The Appeal: Parents Threatened With Losing Children Over Cannabis Use

“Ms. D, a mother of two living in the Bronx, smoked cannabis occasionally. She never smoked in front of her children, and her casual use never affected her ability to parent. So when a child protective investigator asked her if she smoked, Ms. D was forthcoming. After all, her children were healthy, happy, and well…

New York Times: A Child Bumps Her Head. What Happens Next Depends on Race

“When a child experiences a mild head injury and a parent seeks medical attention, what happens next in New York City seems to depend on the ZIP code and the color of the parent’s skin. In April, the actress Jenny Mollen, wife of the actor Jason Biggs and resident of Manhattan’s affluent West Village, announced on…

Open Minds: Interdisciplinary Legal Representation For Parents Involved In Abuse or Neglect Cases Resulted In 118 Fewer Days In Foster Care

“Interdisciplinary legal representation of parents facing child abuse or neglect child welfare cases, whose children entered foster care in New York City, resulted in 118 fewer days in foster care for the children affected. On average, a child who enters out-of-home care will spend 658 days in foster care through 48 months of petition filing…

The Hill: Removing children from their parents doesn’t just happen at the border

“In 2017, 10 percent of children were removed for inadequate housing, a number comparable or exceeding removal rates for physical or sexual abuse respectively. In fact, since 2009, removals based on inadequate housing having been steadily increasing. According to Emma Ketteringham, managing director of the family defense practice at Bronx Defenders in New York, Child Protective Services…

Press Release: Family Advocacy Initiative Funding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 18, 2019 CONTACT Ryan Karerat, The Bronx Defenders, rkarerat@bronxdefenders.org, (347) 842-1251 Daniel Ball, Brooklyn Defender Services, dball@bds.org (347) 592 -2579 Sam McCann, Neighborhood Defender Service, smccann@ndsny.org, (212) 316-7399 Anne Conroy, Center for Family Representation, aconroy@cfrny.org, (646) 276-5634 NEW YORK – The Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem…

Urban Matters: When Child Welfare Intrusion Makes Reproductive Freedom and Illusion

Our Fallon Speaker, Family Defense attorney, and Erin Cloud co-wrote an op-ed advocating for rethinking prevention and childcare advocacy. “Change must happen now. We can start by rejecting the notion that maternal “risk” can be predicted by poverty or Child Protective Services data. In both the child protective and criminal legal systems, there is a…

Written Testimony to the Committee on General Welfare: Impact of Marijuana Policies on Child Welfare

New York City Council Committee on General Welfare jointly with the Committee on Hospitals Oversight – Impact of Marijuana Policies on Child Welfare April 10, 2019 Written Testimony of The Bronx Defenders By Emma S. Ketteringham, Managing Director, Family Defense Practice Anne Venhuizen, Supervising Attorney, Family Defense Practice Jessica Prince, Attorney, Family Defense Practice My…

Statement on the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Crystal Baker-Burr, our Education Attorney, spoke at a City Hall press conference with Organizing For Equity on the school-to-prison pipeline and how students of color are marginalized within the education system. Her speech is transcribed below.  Our School Discipline System is Broken At the Bronx Defenders, I work with young people at the end of the…

The New Republic: The Crime of Parenting While Poor

“The whole existence of ACS lets us pretend that we’re protecting children.” Emma Ketteringham, our managing director of the Family Defense Practice, comments on how parents of color living in poverty are more likely to be overpoliced and criminalized just for parenting. Statistics show that parents living in poverty are unfairly scrutinized by the Administration…

Written Testimony to the Committee on Public Safety Jointly with the Committee on Justice System: Family Separation in Criminal Cases

New York City Council Committee on Public Safety Jointly with the Committee on Justice System Hearing re: Family Separation in Criminal Cases February 25, 2019 Written Testimony of The Bronx Defenders By Fallon Speaker, Eli Northrup, and Caitlin Becker As practitioners, we see firsthand the impact an arrest can have on families, especially when a…

Letter to Mayor de Blasio: Safeguarding Children at the Time of Arrest

February 1, 2019 Dear Mayor de Blasio, We, a diverse group of human service providers, faith-based leaders, and advocates call on the leadership of New York City to immediately adopt a city-wide policy to safeguard children at the time of a parent’s arrest and provide all arresting officers with substantive training to minimize trauma to…

New York Times: A Woman’s Rights: Part 5 “The Mothers Society Condemns”

Our Emma Ketteringham and Erin Cloud spoke to The New York Times on how pregnant women with a history of drug use are mistreated, abused and criminalized for larger structural issues. “According to National Advocates for Pregnant Women, an advocacy and legal group, in just about every state, expectant mothers with a history or suspicion…

Audible: New Family Values

Our Mary Anne Mendenhall and her client Tina have a conversation on Audible’s “New Family Values” podcast. Hear them in Chapter 7: Protecting the Child, here.       

The Chronicle of Social Change: New York City Council Confronts Child Welfare Agency Over Emergency Parent-Child Separations

Between Oct 2016-May 2018, ACS reported a 30% increase in “emergency removals,” removing a child before the case has appeared before a judge. Our Managing Director of the Family Defense Practice Emma Ketteringham testified before the New York City Council on the impact of this alarming trend. “Parent advocates like Coles and Emma Ketteringham of the legal…

Written Testimony to the Justice System Committee on Family Separation

New York City Council Justice System Committee New York City Council, General Welfare Hearing on Family Separation in New York City November 27, 2018 Written Testimony of The Bronx Defenders, By Emma Ketteringham Our Family Defense Practice has been in place since 2005 and represents parents in child protection and all of the related Family…

Rise Magazine: Uplifting Every Voice

“When you are powerless in a system that is tearing your family apart, you hold on to any little ray of hope. My hope and strength came from my boys and the deep and instinctual knowledge that I, as their mother, could not and would not allow strangers to obliterate the years of nurture and…

Medium: When Protection Hurts

“I frequently recall one child who was asked to draw himself as a superhero. I asked him what his power would be. ‘When I grow up, my superpower is going to be to keep families together,’ he said. ‘So no kid has to go through what I am going through right now.’” As an attorney…

WBAI: Child Welfare System and Family Separations in the Bronx

In 2017, the Bronx had more than 30% of all child removals in NYC and double the amount of emergency removals — which refers to removing children without court order, the most extreme choice a child protective agency can make — than the next highest borough. “We represent parents who are being charged with being…