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NY Child Welfare Agents Use Coercion, Manipulation to Enter Families’ Homes

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New York’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) states that, by law, caseworkers are not allowed to enter and search a home without either permission to enter or an entry order (search warrant). But an investigation by  Eli Hager for ProPublica found that caseworkers frequently say things that are coercive and manipulative in order to get inside homes without going to a judge. The agency obtains an average of fewer than 94 entry orders a year to inspect homes, meaning it has a warrant less than 0.2 percent of the time that it conducts searches into likely millions homes.

Caseworkers examine the contents of parent’s refrigerators, scrutinize cleanliness, and instruct children to lift up their shirts and pull down their pants, leaving their underwear on, to look for bruises, scrapes and scratches. Many parents don’t know that they have the right to deny these government agents or don’t push back for fear of losing their children. In New York, less than 4 percent of the agency’s more than 56,000 cases each year end up revealing a safety situation requiring the removal of a child from a home. . Black and Hispanic children account for at least 83 percent of children in ACS cases last year.

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