When Should a Child be Taken From His Parents

In family court, judges must decide whether the risks at home outweigh the risks of separating a family.
Feature (New York)

Larissa MacFarquhar
New Yorker
August 1, 2017

Tags: Courts, Family

Organizations mentioned/involved: Bronx Defenders


What should you do if child-protective services comes to your house?

You will hear a knock on the door, often late at night. You don’t have to open it, but if you don’t the caseworker outside may come back with the police. The caseworker will tell you you’re being investigated for abusing or neglecting your children. She will tell you to wake them up and tell them to take clothes off so she can check their bodies for bruises and marks. She will interview you and your kids separately, so you can’t hear what she’s asking them or what they’re saying.

She opens your fridge and your cabinets, checking to see if you have food, and what kind of food. She looks around for unsafe conditions, for dirt, for mess, for bugs or rats. She takes notes. You must be as calm and deferential as possible.