Redefining public defense.

The Bronx Defenders Family Defense

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…

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…