Redefining public defense.

The Bronx Defenders Family Defense

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…

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…

The New School Center for NYC Affairs: Child Welfare Surge Continues

“[Emergency removals] are the most traumatic for children,” says Emma Ketteringham, Managing Director of our Family Defense Practice. “They’re often done in the middle of the night, without preparation. You find out five minutes before that your child is going to be removed.” Administration for Children’s Services data shows a sharp increase in what are…

Woodhull Sexual Freedom Presentation: Beyond Incarceration: The Policing of Black Women and Children Through the Child Welfare System?

Erin Cloud, the supervising attorney for our Family Defense Practice, shares her talk from the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit about how the womb to fostercare pipeline separates babies from their mothers. The womb to fostercare pipeline makes it more likely for low-income, women of color to lose their children at childbirth due to prior involvement…

Socialist Worker: Families Separated Away from the Border

Dinah Ortiz-Adames is the Senior Parent Advocate at The Bronx Defenders, an activist and advocate, and a mother who has been through the separation from her children due to child welfare authorities. In an interview with Socialist Worker, she emphasizes how her past is now passion for her clients who are going through the same…

NICHQ: Our Systems Meant to Help Are Hurting Black Families

“I’ve seen too many black mothers separated from their babies at birth. What’s even more concerning is that these calls largely revolve around issues of economic insecurity, such as lack of food and stable housing, rather than abuse.” Mandated reporting by health providers can disrupt the health and well being of black families, ultimately causing…

Jezebel: How the Child Welfare System Criminalizes Black and Brown Motherhood

“When we listen to reporting in the media that tends to be pro-removal of children, parents are bad, black mothers are bad…you’re reading that more than you think. Pay attention and listen to it, and recognize the historical origins of that in this country. The quickness with which white women have told black and brown…

The Daily Record: County’s grant rejection generates criticism

“Holistic lawyers and social workers don’t intimidate child witnesses, but work collaboratively with parents to strengthen and stabilize their families. They help inform the child welfare investigative process, not impede it.” Emma Ketteringham, Managing Director of the Family Defense Practice, wrote a joint letter to the editor of The Daily Record responding to Monroe County’s…

Letter to Editor on Foster Care and Opioids

“Children harmed by their parents should of course be protected. But any proposed approach to the opioid crisis that defaults to sending children to foster care once the specter of drug use is raised, and that excludes their parents, is deeply flawed.” Emma Ketteringham, Managing Director of BxD’s Family Defense Practice, responds to an editorial…

Rise Magazine: ‘Poor’ Parenting— When poverty is confused with neglect

Erin Cloud, the supervising attorney for our Family Defense Practice, and Dinah Adames-Ortiz, our parent advocate, talk about how poverty is an incriminating factor against parents just trying to raise their children. “Every aspect of poor families’ lives is subject to supervision. Shelters have mandated reporters. HRA workers are mandated reporters. Public hospitals report overwhelmingly…

Live in a Poor Neighborhood? Better Be a Perfect Parent.

Powerful op-ed by BxD’s Emma Ketteringham in the New York Times about poverty and the child-protection system: “For more than a decade, my colleagues at the Bronx Defenders and I have represented thousands of parents like Eline in child-protection proceedings. A majority of them have never abused a child. Yet child services charges them with “parental…

When Should a Child Be Taken from His Parents?

“What should you do if child-protective services comes to your house? You will hear a knock on the door, often late at night. You don’t have to open it, but if you don’t the caseworker outside may come back with the police. The caseworker will tell you you’re being investigated for abusing or neglecting your…

BxD Hosts Annual Celebration of Families

Last Friday, June 2, we hosted our annual Celebration of Families, welcoming 21 of our clients’ families to The Bronx Defenders’ Justice Campus for an evening of celebration. Every year we hold this intimate gathering to honor the families we have served through our Family Defense Practice and mark June as National Reunification Month. After…

NYT: Black Children’s Welfare

Erin Cloud, a supervising attorney of our Family Defense Practice, writes a Letter to the Editor to Stacy Patton to clarify the ways in which the disproportionate reporting of black families to the child protective services is reflective of economic injustice and racial inequality of low income families rather  than about their actual parenting. “Increased…

CUNY Law Review: Family Defense in the Age of Black Lives Matter

“All families have a constitutional right to be together, free from the unwarranted interference of third parties, particularly the state…This fundamental right recognizes the inherent value in family ties, which provide a connection to culture and identity, and serve as a protective social bond.” Erin Cloud published “Family Defense in the Age of Black Lives…

The New Yorker: Sonia from the Bronx

Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, says that she prefers to be called Sonia from the Bronx. Chances are nobody who meets her ever dreams of calling her anything so informal. When she came back to her native borough last week for an Evening of Conversation at the Bronx Defenders, a nonprofit…

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor Speaks at The Bronx Defenders

On Monday, January 25th, The Bronx Defenders hosted U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor for an evening of conversation at its justice campus in the South Bronx. Local community members, staff members and supporters of The Bronx Defenders were present. The conversation between Robin Steinberg, Executive Director of The Bronx Defenders, and Justice Sotomayor…