Social Work

Social Work

Brooklyn Defenders' Social Work Team collaborates with our attorneys to advocate for the best outcomes for people we represent, while providing them with support in facing the harsh impacts of the criminal, family and immigration legal systems.

Our team consists of Licensed Social Workers, Social Work Assistants, Parent Advocates, Youth Advocates and Re-entry Specialists whose expertise enable us to provide a wide range of specialized services. We assist people we represent in identifying their goals, connect them to services and provide advocacy that supports positive legal outcomes.

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Units & Projects

Criminal Defense Adult Representation

Our Criminal Defense Adult Representation Team advocates for clients over 22 years old and older. We have teams of social workers who are experts in every Criminal Defense Unit specialization – including Homicide, Women’s Defense, Veterans and Mental Health. Our social workers collaborate with attorneys, connect clients to services, provide written and oral advocacy and conduct visits to incarcerated clients.

Criminal Defense Adolescent Representation

Our Criminal Defense Adolescent Representation Team advocates for youth up to age 21 who are arrested and prosecuted in the juvenile or adult court system. We support clients and their loved ones by making regular visits to homes, service providers, court appearances, and when applicable, detention centers or jails. Our Education Social Workers also advocate for the education rights of our clients and their children.

Family Defense

Our Family Defense Social Work Team is comprised of social workers and parent advocates who support parents as they navigate the family regulation system. We advocate for parents in the early stages of an ACS investigation to prevent family separation. In the event that families are separated, our social workers collaborate with attorneys to achieve family reunification.

Integrated Defense

We provide advocacy for parents who have both criminal and family court matters. Our Integrated Defense Social Workers support clients in the early stages of an ACS investigation and participate in family team meetings, child safety conferences and other administrative proceedings.


We work to support clients who have pending cases in immigration court, or whose immigration status may be impacted by their criminal legal system involvement. Our Immigration social workers provide written advocacy for clients in deportation proceedings and other legal matters. We also conduct visits to detained individuals and help non-citizen clients access resources.


Our specially-trained advocates provide services for those who have been incarcerated in New York’s jails and prisons. After release from incarceration or completing an alternative to incarceration program, BDS’ Reentry Team helps people to find housing, gainful employment, continuing education, therapeutic programing, and achieve a successful reintegration into the community.

Social Work Staff

BDS’ Social Work Department consists of specialized social workers across all of our practices areas, including Adolescent Social Workers, Specialized Mental Health Social Workers, Immigration Social Workers, and Social Workers trained to address the needs of veterans, survivors of human trafficking, education and other populations.

A social worker looking powerful and compassionate in front of greenery.
[My social worker] has known me since I was 16. He’s always been there to help me out. I had no one but him at one point. [My social worker] will be the first call I make when I get home.
Mr. C, BDS Client

People who have been incarcerated experience houselessness at a rate


higher than those who have not.

People who have been incarcerated experience joblessness at a rate


higher than those who have not.

People who have been incarcerated experience food insecurity at a rate


higher than those who have not.