New York City Class-Action Lawsuit Defends Parents’ Rights in CPS Home Visits — A Rare Constitutional Challenge

A lawsuit filed against New York City this week is unusual in the child welfare field, focusing not solely on poor treatment of children in the foster care system, but on the rights of their parents to protection from unlawful and invasive searches by CPS workers.

The legal challenge now before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York accuses the city’s child welfare agency of using “highly coercive tactics to illegally search tens of thousands of families’ homes every year.” 

Nine plaintiffs named in Gould et. al v. The City of New York allege that caseworkers from the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) violated their Fourth Amendment rights under the constitution, which protects people from unreasonable search and seizure by the government. The suit, filed Tuesday by public interest and private lawyers, states that child protection workers investigating abuse and neglect reports often do not tell parents they can deny entry into their homes without a court order, and threaten to take their children away if they are not allowed inside.

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