Testimony: The New York Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary & New York State Senate Standing Committee on Children & Families

Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS), along with the other Article 10 Family Defense Organizations in New York City testified before The New York Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary & the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Children & Families on the subject of New York State Family Court.


Our testimony describes the particular harms the family court causes as the most powerful actor, and indeed final arbiter, within the family policing system. The legislature has bestowed on the family court the enormous power to tear children from their homes, keep families separated, and to even permanently sever legal ties between parents and their children. The operations and structure of the family court, from arraignment to the closure of a case, and the priorities behind the operations and structure, run roughshod over the due process rights of children and families. To begin to ameliorate the harm caused, New York must do more than course correct. New York must listen to the calls of the lived experts who have survived the family policing system and embrace solutions that divest New York from family surveillance, control, and punishment, and invest directly in families and the communities from which they come.

We recommend New York State:

● Eliminate mandated reporting;

● Repeal ASFA and end the prioritization of adoption over family integrity;

● Pass legislation that will narrow the pathways to the family policing system and ensure that New York courts protect and provide full Constitutional due process rights to families; Reject legislation that undermines the fundamental due process rights of New York families, most especially low-income, Black, Latine, and socially marginalized families;

● Invest in keeping families together by supporting family defense; and

● Provide legal representation to parents during a family policing investigation.

Read the full testimony here.

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