New York advocates are pushing for passage of two bills sponsored by state Sen. Jabari Brisport and Assemblymember Latrice Walker that would change the dynamic between Child Protective Services (CPS) and families being investigated by the agency.

The first bill, known colloquially as “The Family Miranda Act” (S190 – Brisport/A1980 - Walker), would require that parents be informed of their legal rights before the start of any CPS investigation.

In many child welfare proceedings, parents remain unaware of their rights, which can lead to a lack of cooperation.

Advocates argue that if someone arrested for a crime is allowed to receive a Miranda warning, then a parent being investigated by CPS should have the same right.

According to Angela Olivia Burton, Esq, a community lawyer who formerly worked with the New York state Office of Indigent Legal Services, very few of CPS investigations in New York state are related to suspected child abuse.

“Up to 90% of the cases that CPS gets involved in have to do with what’s called neglect, conditions of poverty, not abuse,” Burton told Capital Tonight. 

Her statement is backed up by an analysis from Texas where similar legislation was passed in 2023.

“When we were digging into this idea of poverty and neglect being conflated, we did a statistical analysis of cases in Texas,” said Andrew Brown, policy director for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “What we found was a statistically significant connection between poverty and removals for pure neglect cases.”

Legislation like the Brisport-Walker bill was passed in Texas by large bipartisan majorities, Brown told Capital Tonight. 

“This is an issue that transcends party labels,” he said.

Since implementation of the law, families in Texas are complying “much more cooperatively” with investigations, he continued.

A second bill, also sponsored by Brisport and Walker (S.901/A.1980), is a call for more transparency; the bill would require confidential reporting rather than anonymous reporting, which is now permitted.

“Currently, anyone can call the state central registry without giving any information about their contact information, their name, just make allegations against a family and then the agency will then go ahead and investigate these allegations without having any further information or any further way to contact that person,” Burton explained.

The New York state Office of Children and Family Services told Capital Tonight it doesn’t comment on pending legislation.

In situations where there is credible evidence to believe a child is in immediate danger, CPS has legal authority to take a child into custody without a court order. The Brisport-Walker bills would not affect that authority.