In response to the NY Times article "Is N.Y.’s Child Welfare System Racist? Some of Its Own Workers Say Yes."
Andy Newman’s reporting on ACS’s targeting of Black and brown families lays bare the extent of the agency’s discriminatory practices. Left unexposed is the degree to which ACS oversteps its authority—beginning with surveillance during pregnancy. Our office represents women in NYC who were drug-tested without their knowledge or consent while seeking prenatal care and were reported to and investigated by ACS for child abuse when those tests indicated the presence of marijuana or a controlled substance. These “child abuse” investigations, disproportionately of Black and Brown women, start before a child exists, absent any sign or indication of abuse or neglect. Whether they opt for the formal or “voluntary” non-investigative track, these women are subjected to “profoundly disruptive, humiliating and even traumatic,” investigations complete with regular drug testing, intrusive home visits, and monitoring of all children in the household. Records remain on file for at least 10 years even if the report is unsubstantiated. As the assault on pregnant people reaches new heights, local child protective services agencies cannot serve as another vehicle to surveil Black and brown women and to further deny them access to trustworthy medical care at a moment when that care is so vital.
If you, or someone you know, was drug-tested without consent while in labor or during other routine medical care while pregnant, please reach out to our Syms Legal Momentum Gender Equality Helpline at 1-800-649-0297 or Help@LMHelpline.org.